Chris Waterman, BIEA’s Early Years Chair, and his team accompanied by Jie Bai, General Manager of BIEA China and Yang Feng, BIEA Marketing Director China visited all the representative children’s nurseries in Xi’an on the 25th of February. There  they held meetings with the various directors and experts regarding the policy and development of early years education in the UK and China. They did  the same at the nurseries in Shaanxi Province.

On the morning of 26th February Chris and his team went to Xi’an Jiaotong University Sunshine Nursery. It is a provincial demonstration nursery in Xi’an. The director Xiaorong Gao warmly welcomed the team. They toured the nursery whilst Xiaorong explained the nursery’s philosophy and gave a brief history of its development. The team visited the classrooms and observed the children playing games. At the end of the tour, Xiaorong gave Chris a Chinese painting created by the children. Chris then presented the children with a collection of poetry dedicated to The Jiatong Sunshine Nursery.

Later the team visited the Xi’an High-tech International Nursery, which is a nursery of the China Montessori Association and the Women’s Department of the Women’s Federation of Shaanxi Province. The director of the nursery, Lan Zhang, showed them its indoor and outdoor environments. Lan also emphasised the importance of the school-parent education to the children to the team.

Then Chris and the team went to the Jidong Liao Nursery, which it is a high-end early years education international brand created by the Beijing Zhongyou Sunshine Education Group. The Chairman of the group Zhidong Jiao and Director Xia Huo invited the team to observe children having activities and to interacted with the them. Knowing the interest Chris has in Chinese culture Zhidong wrote the word “Fu” to him with a Chinese brush,  the word means “blessings” in English.

Chris and related experts, investors, early years teachers and directors in Shaanxi Province held a forum to discuss the policy and development of early years education in the UK and China. The meeting was hosted by Zhidong Jiao, Chairman of the China Youth Education Group. The Chairman, Vice Chairman and Secretary General of the Shaanxi Provincial Private Nursery Alliance, Mr. Kunshan Luo and Mr. Yunqi Jing also attended the forum.

Chris explained the establishment of BIEA and its abundant British educational resources to all the early years education experts and teachers in Shaanxi Province. At the same time they discussed  the policy and development direction of the early years education in the UK. The audience discussed the new policy of local education in China and learned from Chris how early years education in the UK responded to any policy requirement and adapted to it.

The forum focused on two areas, teacher development and featured courses. Kunshan conducted a detailed analysis of the current policy in China, and gave a brief explanation of the future developmental direction of the private nurseries as well as the current situation and problems they are facing. He concluded that there needs to be a steady development and an improvement in overall quality.

Chris also outlined the proportion of the UK’s investment in education that goes to the early years sector. The UK invested more in early years education than in any other stage. It is not easy to start a nursery in the UK. The requirements are extremely strict. Chris believes that the combination of advanced educational concepts and excellent teachers can provide better help for children’s growth. This is one of the important reasons why BIEA introduced the CPD training programme for early years teachers overseas. Chris also shared his thoughts after visiting a number of nurseries in China. He proposed two major differences between British and Chinese nurseries: Firstly, The size of the UK ones is generally smaller whereas Chinese ones have a size of 300 to 400 students; Secondly, Chinese nurseries are very clean and orderly whilst British ones are more disorderly, which Chris believes represents the traits of freedom, creativity and energy. In addition, he felt that Chinese nurseries had a bit of “over-investment”. Much wealth is spent on construction and equipment, but pay for teachers is low. In his view, children do not need such luxury facilities, and a good teacher, no matter in what circumstances, can have more benefit to a child. The forum was thought provoking and provided those present a platform to exchange educational ideas between the UK and China and on how to enable further international teaching in Chinese state nurseries.