Children’s education is paramount in the eyes of Chinese parents, and families spare nothing when it comes to their children’s education. Although public school can provide adequate education for most students in China, many wealthy elites prefer Western education, and in their minds, primary school and high school in China is merely a stepping stone for their children to study abroad in the future.

As result, most high-end private schools in Shanghai have international backgrounds and are not geared towards the Chinese university entrance exam. They provide internationally accepted qualifications for entry into higher education, for example, International Baccalaureate educational programs.

As the largest city in China, Shanghai has no shortage of wealthy elites, rich businessmen, celebrities and foreign dignitaries, and most private schools in Shanghai are tailored to this exclusive group of people. The schools claim they have very high educational standards and practice strict admission policies, with some international schools only accepting children with foreign passports. After being accepted, parents have to pay steep tuition averaging over 200,000 yuan ($32,240) per year. Most private schools in Shanghai are boarding schools, offering courses from grades 1 to 12, so if a child attends private international school in Shanghai, the family will have to pay over 2 million yuan ($322,400).

Here are the top 10 most expensive schools in Shanghai.

No 10 Shanghai Livingston American School

Annual tuition fee: RMB 169,000 ($26,600)

Founded in 2001, Shanghai Livingston American School (SLAS) was set up for the purpose of providing an American-style education to foreigners in China.

SLAS is the first school in China to implement an American educational system from pre-school through 12th grade. Classes follow California’s public school curriculum and standards. This is especially beneficial for those wishing to continue their schooling in the US.

Students play on the athletic field at Shanghai Livingston American School. [File photo] 

No 9 Hong Qiao International School

Annual tuition fee: RMB 172,800 ($27,198)

Hong Qiao International School (HQIS) was founded in 1997 with just two classes serving 18 preschool students. In 2012, HQIS became an International Baccalaureate accredited school authorized to teach the Primary Years Program.

HQIS emphasizes lifetime learning. This begins with a highly engaging educational program that focuses on developing the academic, social, and emotional capabilities of each child, with an emphasis on inquiry teaching and learning.

Concept art for the Hong Qiao International School’s new campus. [File Photo]

No 8 Shanghai Singapore International School

Annual tuition fee: RMB 200,000 ($31,480)

Shanghai Singapore International School offers courses based on the Singapore Primary Curriculum and IB Diploma Program.

The school has a reputation among the expatriate parents as a place where children with little to no English language ability can achieve proficiency within two years. The school’s Intensive English Program remains one of its strongest selling points, since no other language, including Chinese, is allowed to be spoken within.

The main entrance to Shanghai Singapore International School. [File photo]

No 7 Concordia International School Shanghai

Annual tuition fee: RMB 218,000 ($34,313)

Concordia International School Shanghai is an international private school based in Shanghai, founded in 1998. Concordia has grown from 22 students and 14 staff members under the direction of founder Allan Schmidt to its current enrollment of over 1,200 students from pre-school to grade 12 under the direction of Gregg Pinick, head of school.

The school’s launch followed considerable feasibility research and numerous requests from the Hong Kong corporate community for a school in China that offered the same level of educational support and community care as the acclaimed Hong Kong International School.

Its logo is seen at the main entrance to Concordia International School Shanghai. [File photo] 

No 6 Shanghai American School

Annual tuition fee: RMB 226,000 ($35,572)

Founded in 1912, Shanghai American School (SAS) is one of China’s largest international schools, with more than 3,000 students from 40 countries. SAS offers classes from pre-kindergarten through grade 12 based on an American core curriculum.

SAS is a top-tier benchmark school in China and 98 percent graduates move on to the colleges and universities of their choice around the world.

A view of the front entrance of Shanghai American School. [File photo]

No 5 Shanghai Community International School

Annual tuition fee: RMB 245,000 ($38,563)

Shanghai Community International School (SCIS) was founded in 1996 for the children of expatriates. SCIS is a member of the East Asian Regional Conference of Overseas Schools and in 2001 received full accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

SCIS received a six-year term of accreditation by the Chinese National Council of Curriculum and Textbooks, becoming the first international school in Shanghai to achieve this distinction.

The campus of Shanghai Community International School. [File photo]

No 4 Harrow International School Shanghai

Annual tuition fee RMB 250,000 ($39,350)

Harrow International School Shanghai is a private school.

It was established and gained its license to operate in China in 2005 in association with Harrow School London and Harrow International School, Bangkok. The school has about 680 students, both boys and girls, representing 38 different nationalities, ranging in age from 3 to 18.

Harrow International School Shanghai follows and enriches the National Curriculum of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The main entrance to Harrow School in London. [File photo]

No 3 Dulwich College Shanghai

Annual tuition fee: RMB 269,500 ($42,340)

Founded in 2003, Dulwich College Shanghai provides top quality education for 1,500 students from pre-kindergarten to year 13.

Classes are based on the English National Curriculum and the International Baccalaureate program.

The college is committed to the highest standards of academic achievement as well as excellence in the performing arts and on the sports field, developing well-rounded, principled and confident young people.

A front view of Dulwich College Shanghai. [Photo provided to] 

No 2 British International School Shanghai Puxi

Annual tuition fee: RMB 272,000 ($42,812)

As a member of Nord Anglia Education, the British International School Shanghai Puxi has a well-established reputation for outstanding educational outcomes beyond classroom experiences and is in West Shanghai.

Established in 2004, the school develops students representing over 50 nationalities who understand and display internationalism, leadership and concern for others, through an innovative academic program coupled with first rate extra-curricular and pastoral provision.

The English National Curriculum and the IB programs provide rigorous qualifications and students achieve top exam results, equipping them for lifelong success and securing them places at leading universities all around the world, including Oxford, Brown and Duke.

The school grounds of the British International School Shanghai Puxi. [Photo provided to] 

No 1 Wellington College International Shanghai

Annual tuition fee: RMB 280,000 ($44,072)

Wellington College was built as a national monument to the Duke of Wellington (1769–1852), after whom the school is named. Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone in 1856 and inaugurated the school’s public opening on 29 January 1859.

Opened in August 2014, Wellington College International Shanghai is at every level an extension of its partner school, Wellington College in the UK.

Embracing the ethos of its prestigious and forward-thinking partner, Wellington’s curriculum is based on the British National Curriculum and the fundamental approach of its unique model of education, the Eight Aptitudes. The college offers the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) in Years 10-11 and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP) in Years 12 and 13.

David Cook is headmaster of Wellington College International Shanghai. [File photo]