Government starts drive for UK nursery providers to launch in China

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The Department for International Trade (DIT) is running a GREAT Early Years Education mission to China for nursery group leaders, as part of its GREAT Early Years campaign, in a drive to encourage UK providers to expand overseas.


British Early Education's international kindergarten in Yixing, near Shanghai

DIT is planning to send 10 representatives of UK nurseries, nursery chains and nursery training providers to Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen in September.

Under its ‘China & HK Education is GREAT’ Early Years campaign, DIT is running the trip from 18-22 September, with a programme of events including a pre-mission briefing,  ‘matchmaking’ sessions with potential investors and partners, conferences, workshops and briefings with senior education officials and local sector specialists, visits to nursery settings, networking receptions, and a DIT follow-up after the mission.

International Trade Minister Mark Garnier said, 'The UK is a world leader and has a global reputation for providing outstanding expertise, education and qualifications in the early years sector.
'There’s growing demand for the UK offering, which is why we are now launching our GREAT Early Years Education mission to China to help UK nurseries export their services and knowledge on a global scale.
'As an international economic department we’re encouraging businesses to take advantage of this opportunity and tap into the lucrative Asian market as part of an outward looking Global Britain.'

Demand for early years provision in China is growing as a result of recent changes to Chinese government policy, such as the ending of the one-child policy, as well as the reputation of British education abroad. The overall size of China’s education industry in 2015 was £193bn, and this figure is expected to grow to £370bn by 2020.

At a challenging time for UK nurseries, the programme is aiming to point out opportunities to internationalise providers’ operations, particularly in markets such as China and Hong Kong. The mission is designed to help UK nurseries interested in taking their brand to China make their first steps into the market.

DIT hosted a briefing webinar on 21 July to provide nurseries with more information about the different operating models for partnership, the support available for smaller nurseries interested in this opportunity and the trade mission itself  ( Nurseries or trainers interested in applying must outline their aims and objectives for the trip and explain why they should be selected.

Interest in international expansion has been growing in the UK early years sector, with British Early Education going into partnership with Chinese investors in Shanghai to open a 380-place setting earlier this year, and the Busy Bees group acquiring Canadian chain BrightPath Early Learning in a reported $145m deal.

UK-based nursery businesses or nursery training providers interested in participating in the DIT mission, can email Caroline Wallace at to request an application form.

The closing date for applications is Wednesday 2 August 2017.

  • Nursery World's Business Summit on 8 November includes a workshop on international expansion run by Courteney Donaldson of Christie and Co
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