“It’s a captivating time for globally-minded people,” Mark Johnson, KJA.
Middleton works closely with a number of partners who bring additional expertise to our clients during and after the property acquisition process. One such is education consultancy Kashti Johnson Associates (KJA) founded by Mark Johnson, former headmaster of Cheam School in North Hampshire for 18 years, and lawyer Rebecca Kashti.
As Middleton’s Tom Hudson says, “The quality of school and availability of places are such critical factors in deciding when and where to buy country property. There are few people with better contacts and knowledge of the education sector than Mark, and he’s provided valued counsel to a number of our clients.”
In fact, much of KJA’s core business is now in providing advice to UK independent schools aiming to forge links and facilitate joint ventures with schools in Asia. Here, Mark talks about the opportunities for outreach and cultural enrichment this can bring to UK independent schools.
“There is no more noble profession than education.”
“When you are introduced to someone in China, their profession, as much as their name, is part of that introduction,” says Mark. “And there is no more noble profession than education. The word is the same, whether you are teacher or headteacher – because the profession as a whole is held in such high esteem. In some ways, that makes it all the more remarkable, the respect in which the UK’s independent schools are held.”
Outreach. Enrichment. Revenue.
As Mark explains, many of the UK’s independent schools have already established franchises or partnerships in South East Asia. The potential, however, has barely been tapped; such is the size of the opportunity in China.”
“By 2025, there will be a Chinese middle-class of around 550 million people, most of them with double income, mostly with one child only, and almost all highly ambitious, with an enormous desire to give their children a broad-based education that meets the highest international standards.”
“They do undoubtedly regard the UK’s independent schools as embodying those standards and the values they aspire to in the globalised economy,” says Mark.
From the perspective of UK schools, there are three very real benefits to exploring opportunities in South East Asia, according to KJA Associates. Firstly, general outreach at a time when independent schools are regarded as being too insular. Secondly, the cultural and educational enrichment that partnerships and exchanges bring. And thirdly, significant revenue.
The Belt and Road Initiative
“The Chinese government has committed a trillion dollars to the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ (BRI) – a massive connectivity and cooperation project,” says Mark. “and they’ve empowered the provinces to drive this forward. Provincial Governors know that a good school will act as a magnet, bringing with it housing, transport, infrastructure. So, while many UK schools already have a presence in the main east coast cities, the potential in inland China is absolutely vast.”
“Also, with China looking to attract the world’s talent to help them drive their economic expansion forwards, thousands more UK professionals will see opportunities to work there. With the influence and presence of the UK’s independent sector, they will also see the possibility of giving their children the education they want without having to send them back to the UK to boarding school.”
“It’s a captivating time for globally-minded people,” says Mark. “And a tremendous opportunity for ourselves as educationalists steeped in the UK’s independent school tradition. Independent education is one of the UK’s strongest ‘brands’ – something of which we can be extremely proud.”