chapter  14
Catering for diversity in small classes in Nanjing
Pages 12

The development of small class education (SCE) or small class teaching (SCT) in mainland China started in the economically developed provinces and cities in East China in the late 1990s and early 2000s (see Chapter 2 and 3 of this book). In 2001, Nanjing, which served as an ancient capital of China and is currently the capital of Jiangsu province, began to carry out experimental schemes in SCT in 14 primary schools with a class size of 28 students, (relatively small by Chinese standards) and five years later extended this to eight lower secondary schools with a class size of 36 students (Zhou and Yang, 2009). The decision to implement SCT was both influenced by the drastic fall in student enrolment and inspired by the pioneering SCT experiment in Shanghai (see Chapter 13). At the same time, the top officials of the Education Bureau were keen to learn from the advanced education systems in western Europe, which were seen as ‘studentdevelopment based’ with small class sizes. The first seven years were the phase of ‘rational thinking’ and ‘exploration through practice’ (Yen, 2015). From the beginning, teachers’ professional development was regarded as crucial to the successful development of SCE and a variety of professional development programmes were organized for principals and teachers by teacher training institutions and by schools (Zhou and Yang, 2009). SCE was portrayed by the Nanjing Education Bureau (2007) as one of the highlights of education in the city.