What is it like to teach at a Chinese Public School?

What is it like to Teach in Chinese Public Schools?

As you teach English in China, you will be posted in any of the three categories of schools. These include private schools, public schools and training centres. From experience, each teacher has their preferred type of school to teach English in China.

At Pioneer & Beyond we give our candidates the opportunity to teach in any type of school. Pioneer & Beyond seek to hire highly motivated individuals to teach in Chinese schools. A candidate’s profile must meet certain requirements for them to qualify. First, the candidate must be a native level or fluent English speaker. Secondly, the candidate must possess a Bachelor’s degree*. Good communication and interpersonal skills are the third set of qualifications a teacher should meet. Fourthly, the candidate should have high levels of professionalism, be self-driven and ambitious. Finally, the candidate must commit to the task, have a great attitude and be adaptive to new situations.

This article explores the perks of teaching in public schools in China. Public schools are further grouped into primary, middle and high schools.

Working Schedule and Office Hours

Public schools operate on fixed and regular schedules. They operate in line with China’s national academic terms. School years are divided into semesters or terms, usually separated by winter and summer holidays. Teachers report to work from Monday to Friday. Working hours range between 8.00 a.m and 5.00 p.m. These can vary from school to school. Daily schedules have breaks for meals and rest. Unlike private schools, public schools give teachers a lot of time to themselves. Teachers do not teach for more than 18 hours.

Most public schools do not expect teachers to have office hours. If required, office hours do not exceed 10 in a week. Teachers only show up in school to attend lessons. They allow for teachers to plan their lessons from home. There are no administrative roles is public schools. Teachers strictly stick to their job; teaching and instruction.


Local citizens manage public schools in China. In contrast, private schools are often run by foreigners who are fluent English speakers. If you happen to teach in a public school, it would be advisable to learn some basic Mandarin words and phrases. This helps to counter the possible language barrier between you and your employers. Most noteworthy, public schools do not have close supervision of their teachers. Even more, teachers rarely interact with parents unlike in private schools.

Class sizes

China has a large population. As such, class sizes tend to be large. This compromises the teacher-student ratio. Classes have anywhere between 35 to 80 learners or more. Middle class and high school classes record the largest populations. As a result of large student numbers, learners are often grouped into age groups. Each age group is considered to be at a certain level of learning. This makes it easier for teachers to plan their lessons. In addition to that, teachers are able to bond more with their learners due to continued interaction. As a teacher, you will be assigned a class to teach throughout the academic year.


Public schools are government regulated. Most pay between 9000-14000 CNY depending on the location of the school and level of experience. Coupled with fewer working hours, most public teachers conduct personalized private tuition during weekends and holidays. Additionally, most hold summer and winter camps when public schools close for holidays. These camps involve offering intensive English lessons at a fee. The lessons mainly involve listening, speaking and writing English. Most parents willingly pay for these sessions. As a result, the teachers earn a lucrative extra income. Above all, teachers receive flight reimbursement and medical insurance cover as part of the salary package.


Most public schools organise accommodation for their teachers. This is usually within the confines of the institution. However, living within the school could compromise on personal privacy. As such, most offer the option of offering house allowance if you are not comfortable with the accommodation offered. The housing allowance offered is enough to pay house rent and utility bills.


In public schools, teachers work for 185 days a year. That is roughly 51% of the year. Conversely, teachers in private schools work for about 70% of the year. Teachers in public enjoy all holidays in China. This is because public schools observe the Chinese calendar. If you teach in a public school, you will enjoy 11 public holidays including the Spring Festival and New Year’s Festival. Furthermore, they get 6 weeks off for winter break and 9 weeks off for summer holiday. This gives teachers ample time to make extra income and explore the country of China well as the world at large. They only need to book their plane or train tickets in good time.