Education & Family

Eton launches online lessons for China

Eton College
Image caption Eton says that the project will carry the school's "DNA" to China

Eton College is going to launch online lessons for schools in China.

From this autumn, the leading UK independent school is going to provide classes in leadership to Chinese students, using live online tuition.

The school has formed a partnership with a technology firm to create a company called EtonX.

The school, in Berkshire, says any income raised by the international project will be used for bursaries to cover pupils' fees.

Percy Harrison, director of information technology at Eton College, says the school would be able to reach a wider number of pupils, without setting up an overseas campus.

He said there were risks to the "brand" of independent schools setting up overseas "franchises", but the online venture would allow Eton to provide lessons for students in China without losing control of the quality.

Leadership skills

The EtonX project will see pupils in China learning from a mixture of interactive content produced at Eton, with one-to-one online teaching from tutors in the UK.

The cost, about £700 per pupil, will be paid by Chinese parents as an optional extra, like a music lesson.

Teachers from Eton have been to the schools in China to talk to their counterparts in Chinese classrooms. At the launch, the project is expected to involve "less than a dozen" schools in China.

The lessons, aimed at China's aspirational middle-class families, will teach secondary pupils a "modern leadership programme", taught in English and focusing on communication skills and how to work collaboratively.

The aim is to give Chinese students skills for a modern international workplace, which will help them think beyond a school system with a high level of rote learning.

Mr Harrison said the project would carry Eton's "DNA" in terms of the school's emphasis on developing leadership.

The project is being run with education-technology company Eighteen70 . Its founder, Simon Walsh, said he wanted to "humanise" digital education through individual online tuition.

Such online courses have been mainly associated with universities - and the EtonX brand is reminiscent of online projects by US universities, such as HarvardX and MITx.

Former pupils at the school include Prince William and Prime Minister David Cameron.