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Schools partnership comes to fruition in Hangzhou

BritCham / CBBC
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On 4 September, the China-Britain Business Council’s education team was invited to witness the signing of an agreement between the UK’s Alpha Plus Group (APG) and China’s Yango Preschool Group committing to the establishment of over 30 preschools in China.
Signed in Hangzhou on the weekend of the G20 and B20 meetings in the same city, it demonstrates clearly that, with strong relationships, open dialogue and determination from both sides, the golden era of Sino-UK relations continues to deliver real success for British businesses in China.
State visit sows a golden seed
The education agreement was the product of a dialogue between APG and Yango Group that started during President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the UK in October 2015. Yango’s chief operating officer, Michael Hu, was on President Xi’s delegation and travelled to the UK with a clear objective – to bring a high-quality preschool offering back to the Chinese market. The group had identified a niche in the market for international-style preschool education in China, where children do not start school until the age of 7 and normally attend private nurseries until then.
During his visit, Mr Hu met Julian Drinkall, chief executive of APG, which has a network of 15 preschools including Chepstow House School, the Minors Nursery School and Rolfe’s Nursery School. APG’s experience filled the niche identified by Yango and the seeds were sown for further talks.
The two organisations nevertheless had to work hard to cement the partnership. They have since cooperated with both CBBC and the new Department for International Trade (formerly UK Trade and Investment) to establish themselves amongst a network of Chinese and international partners. ‘Partnerships that are destined to be strong take time to build,’ said Mr Drinkall at the signing.
DIT’s acting director-general, Sherry Madera, took time away from the B20 to witness the signing with Simon Stewart, CBBC’s director for education and innovation. They reiterated CBBC and DIT’s commitment to work further with both organisations to support their growth in China.
While President Xi’s visit laid the ground to connect the two companies, the APG-Yango partnership shows how a commercial opportunity was ultimately realised through the diligence and initiative of the businesses themselves, coupled with the relevant support. At the start of a new era for bilateral relations, this is something which many other UK companies, in education and other fields, have the opportunity to achieve – and should strive to do so.
CBBC and DIT continue to work together to create opportunities for UK businesses of all kinds to understand the Chinese market and find strong partners. You can download CBBC’s new report on international schools here or attend the report launch event on 12 September in London - details here.
If you would like to speak directly to our international schools leads about your school, please contact Ann Pan in China at ann.pan@cbbc.org.cn or Jodie Qiao in the UK at jodie.qiao@cbbc.org.cn.
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