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Scott’s first day at Soong Ching Ling kindergarten

This morning Grace and I took Scott for the first time to his new school, the Soong Ching Ling kindergarten (Hongqiao Campus). Grace did a lot of research on schools and eventually decided that this was the best for Scott. I visited the campus once before and was surprised how big it was, over 10 hectares full of gardens, playgrounds and even a swimming pool in the middle of Hongqiao. This used to be the edge of town many years ago when the campus was built (1994), but nowadays so much space is very unusual in Shanghai.

Scott was excited, and so was I actually. It’s quite something to bring your little boy to school and leave him there. Last year he already went to the nursery in our compound, but that was different. It was just a 3 minute walk to see him, now you leave him behind in a big school. Initially Scott seemed to like it, but when we had to leave he of course started crying. Becky (one of the 3 teachers for the 10 students, she is British) held him and when we walked past the window a few minutes later he had calmed down again.

Scott's first day at Soong Ching Ling kindergarten in Shanghai

The teachers told us that Scott behaved well, but some other kids did not stop crying the whole morning. I guess Scott had the advantage of having been in the nursery, which was a bit similar. When I asked Scott how he liked it he didn’t say much, so I assumed it was okay. But tonight he opened up to Grace: he liked the nursery much better and misses his teacher there, so he wants to go back there. She explained that he is now a big boy so he has to go to a different school and that all his classmates are now also in different schools. She also explained that Elaine will soon go to the nursery now, but his reaction was that she can then go to his school so he can go back to nursery!

Scott's first day at Soong Ching Ling kindergarten in Shanghai

I am sure he will get used to the new school quickly and also make new friends soon. The school itself is better than any school I ever attended (and I attended a lot of schools when I was young!), so he is privileged. Soon he will likely speak a lot better English as well, because that’s the first language in his class (second language is Chinese). We are encouraged to speak English with him every now and then as well. Must be confusing for him…

Scott's first day at Soong Ching Ling kindergarten in Shanghai

I noted this morning that quite some Chinese kids go to Soong Ching Ling as well, it’s luckily not a pure expat school. The school is popular (we were happy that Scott was admitted) but obviously not very cheap and you can see that from the cars that some of the people, or normally their drivers, bring the kids to school in. When we went there this morning a Mercedes-Benz S600 limousine had been parked next to our car, another S600 was parked 2 places next to it and a Porsche 911 was parked opposite us! Nice for Scott, he is a big car fan now already and each time he spots a Porsche he will inform me about that, so he will have a lot to tell me every day.

Note (Jan. 2013): in the comments below this post people wrote negative things about the school, but if you scroll until the end you will see that they are referring to a school with the same name in Chengdu. At first I wanted to delete the comments, but I now decided to keep them and make this short edit to the post. Soong Ching Ling Kindergarten is probably the best kindergarten in Shanghai and maybe even in China. It was the best choice I could have made for my kids.

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  1. Hi!

    I happened to chance upon your blog while doing my research on Soong Ching Ling Kindergarten.

    My family is relocating to Shanghai in June. Gathered from info online that it is extremely tough to get a place in this school.

    Would appreciate if you can share your experience with the enrollment. Any suggestions to securing a place there for my 3 yr old gal is much welcomed!


  2. You should contact the admission office now and submit the application form (which can be downloaded from their website) right away. Ms. He and Ms. Chen at +86 21 6242 9851 ext. 25 both speak fluent English. There is no application fee, so even if you are still thinking about other options, it won’t hurt to send in the form. Not sure if there are still places though. If you have more than 1 child who will potentially all go here it may help as well, the school likes this kind of families and gives discount to siblings.

    You will get confirmation in May whether your child has been admitted. Then you will have to pay the full tuition fee for Sep to Dec right away.

  3. Thanks Marc!
    I will give Ms He and Ms Chen a ring.



  5. (Edit by Marc van der Chijs, Jan. 2013: it turns out that Victoria is referring to a kindergarten with the same name in Chengdu, therefore you should neglect this comment)

    Yes, I read Soong Ching Ling treats bad their teachers before, that’s why I didn’t even bother to check that school.Maybe that’s why Soong Ching Ling Kindergarten is always looking for teachers…. Everytime when I read Star magazine I see Soong Chin Ling looking for teachers. My mother used to be a teacher and asked me to check the teacher not the name or building of the school or cars that stopped around the school. teacher is the importand and he or she will look after your child.I checked many schools and stopped at Fortune Kindergaten, because I found out the teachers have been working there for 5-10 even 15 years.That means it’s a right school. Try Fortune kindergarten. I’m from Germany and my daughter goes to Fortune kindergarten for three years. She can speak both English and Chinese now.

  6. Thanks for the comments Victoria and Kristeen. From my daily observations over the past 2 years I feel that the teachers at Soong Ching Ling are excellent (I speak to my kids teachers almost every morning). Both Scott and Elaine go to school there now and they can’t wait to go there again every morning. They love their teachers and have an excellent curriculum. When Scott joined SCL he did not speak a word of English, now he is fluent in the language and prefers it over Chinese in daily communication (he is 4 now and used to speak only Chinese and Dutch). So not sure where the bad comments come from, I am sure every school has its pros and cons, but personally I am very happy that we choose Soong Ching Ling for our kids and I would advise anybody to try to get their kids into this school.

  7. (Edit by Marc van der Chijs, Jan. 2013: it turns out that Victoria is referring to a kindergarten with the same name in Chengdu, therefore you should neglect this comment)

    Hi, I’m happy for you and your kids.I read the following about Soong Ching Ling International Kindergarten
    This is a warning about accepting a job at Soong Ching Ling International Kindergarten.
    This institution is by far the worst I know of (though I’ve heard there are worst) when it comes to how to deal with foreigners. Although most of the staff are friendly, but the management is a mess.

    Here’s what you can expect by accepting a job offer at this school:

    Your timetable to change frequently with little warning.

    New rules on almost a daily basis.

    Large fines for ridiculous things, from as basic a thing as leaving the light on. You can even expect up to 500 yuan to be taken off your salary in some circumstances.

    Expectation to work on weekends for no pay on an almost semi-regular basis, and often with little warning before the day you are expecting to work.

    Extra work duties that go outside normal work hours, for no pay.

    If you expected to be teaching English, you are unlikely to do much of that, although the classes are daily, most of your duties will actually involve things from cleaning the classroom, to changing children’s clothes and general nanny duties (it’s a lot more work than you might expect). The workload is significantly more than other jobs that offer the same wage if not more.

    Although not uncommon in China, a number of their common practices, such as those concerning overtime, are actually illegal as they violate several clauses in Chinese labor law.

    The kindergarten is not a stable place at the moment, and although the majority of the staff are just victims of this, decisions are not thought out thoroughly by the management and it reflects in the end result.

    The school itself is more of an excuse for wealthy parents to send their children for special treatment, the school is much more interested in bowing to the parents every whim than actually giving a decent education to the children. Most of the what they claim publicly is just all big talk and is largely exaggerated from what the reality is.

    Basically all of the foreigner teachers currently there were lead there under false pretenses of what their job role would entail and are poorly treated.

    So, a strong warning against taking any job at this school

  8. Not sure where you get your information but I would like to comment first hand, as a teacher working at SCLK for 5 years,I had to LOL at the statements above, especially about money being deducted for leaving a light on….I mean come on! If your going to slate the school get your facts right first! I’m really happy at the school, it’s a fabulous environment for children and the teachers.

  9. @laoshi Thanks for your comment, it’s good to hear directly from a teacher at Soong Ching Ling. Scott is now in his 3rd year at SCL and Elaine is in her 2nd year, and we mainly have positive experiences with the school. I still highly recommend the school to everyone, and also think it’s a great school to teach at.

  10. I have been researching SCL as I have a friend who is currently working there and she loves it! I am hoping to come out there myself in the next year. It’s good to hear positive experiences from both staff and parents. It is unfortunate that someone may have had a negative experience however I am still very much interested in seeking a new challenge in an establishment such as this! 🙂

  11. Hi guys, I’m the person who posted that thread by the way. Please read my entire comment here.

    Firstly, the thread is irrelevant to anyone sending their kids there. It is a great school for kids to go to, they get a good all round education!

    @Laoshi The campus I worked at had not been open 5 years; infact I was amongst the first employees. So I can only assume you work at a different campus or for a different comapny. The claims I made were true, my aim was to provide information for prospective employees. Absolustely EVERYTHING I said was true, I don’t make a habbit of fabricating facts for no reason.

    More importantly (!!) I have removed the post now because I believe the school to have improved! The school has come a long way and many people have worked hard to improve it. Unfortunately companies will get a bad reputation if they are bad, this is something they have to consider early on, preferably not 2 years after opening. But they have worked on it and are still improving as well!

    @JL Yes it is unfortuante some employees suffered… I was not the only one, but that was then, things have moved on!

  12. Upon further inspection of the original post I realise that this is indeed a different campus to the one I worked at, and in fact I suspected this campus to be much better. In my original post about the school I specified that it was about Chengdu and also said I cannot speak for other campuses…I’m not sure why that part wasn’t quoted in this thread as well…

  13. Hi Marc,

    We are thinking of sending our kid to SCL shanghai. Just wondering if this school, in your opinion, is strong in Chinese Language. As we are thinking to have our kid master Chinese language first before tackling English. I understand that their main language is English but seems to us that (cause it’s run by Chinese) kids have a higher chance to learn Chinese compared to other schools like British International School etc.

  14. Hi Christy,
    I have no experience with the British School, but there are a lot of Chinese kids at SCL so it’s likely kids will speak Chinese among themselves at first. However, if learning Chinese is your main goal I would send them to a Chinese school, or (maybe better) get a Chinese nanny. Education at SCL is in English and eventually most kids will use English, also while playing. My kids were brought up trilingual (Chinese, English & Dutch) and for us SCL was a good choice.

  15. Hi, I have been offered a job in Soong Ching Ling in Chengdu, I am really unsure whether to take it. Any advice?

  16. I taught at the Qing pu campus. It was a nightmare they have no curriculum or resources.They had some of us come over on a tourist visa and promised to change it to a z visa.That never happened some of us are teaching illegally on tourist visa’s! The puppet principal Jane Heimerdinger is working on a tourist visa and is 70 years old!Avoid working here or sending your children here if you love them….

  17. Deon, sorry to hear that you had such a bad experience at the Qingpu school. Was that at the kindergarten as well or at the normal school (grade 1 & higher)? It’s certainly very different from the experience we had at the Hongqiao campus, where the curriculum was great and there were many resources. Even though my kids are not in SCL anymore I would still highly recommend it.

  18. They are slapping up a bunch of new Soong Ching Ling Schools in the Qinpu district.SCLS are accepting any student at any level to enroll as long as they can pay.Grades 1-6 have no curriculum or resources for the students and discipline does not exist at the Quinpu campuses.I do not recommend this school to work at or for your children.

  19. @Deon Can I contact you by email? I have been offered a position at the Qing pu campus. I would really like to hear more about your experience there. Thank you!

  20. I workedat soong ching ling shanghai for 2 years dedicated teacher and was fired for bullying from other teachets and the coordinator I hope that the time Ms PhillCamberlain was evil.. I LOVED MY CLASSES AND THE CHILDREN.I hope yhat the find a better coordinator because the facilities are great