The playground stands deserted, the classrooms empty of children at a Beijing school after it and a dozen other private schools for migrants in the district were shut down in a campaign to clean out 'low-quality people'. Headmistress Zhang Xueying received notice last month from Beijing's Fengtai district Government ordering the closure of the Xinghua Primary School for Rural Migrants' Children. In the past five years, Ms Zhang, a teacher from Hebei province, turned the school into the largest of its kind in Fengtai: with 700 pupils and more than 20 teachers. Last year, she moved it to a site with 30 classrooms in a two-storey building. Encouraged by the rise in enrolments, from 460 last year to 730, Ms Zhang bought a new computer when the term began in August. But the school was closed four weeks later, on September 11. When the Beijing Morning Post reported the closure, it quoted an official as saying the move was to 'clean up low-quality people'. Ms Zhang faces financial difficulty because she will have to refund tuition fees. Most of the money had already been spent on textbooks, rent and teachers' salaries. But her worst fear is for her former students. When Ms Zhang, 37, arrived in Beijing in 1996, she was shocked to find so many migrant children in the streets. 'These children could not afford to go to a state-run school and they had nothing to do. At that time I started looking after a few children for rural migrants and then many came to me for help.' Children pay low tuition fees for state-run schools, but migrant children are forced to pay much more. This has led to a number of private schools being set up, often by migrants. 'I was worried about the education of my own children,' Ms Zhang said. 'So I decided to start a school so that my children and others could go to school.' The district Government has pledged to enrol all the children in state-run schools, but Ms Zhang and other teachers say this will not help. 'Who can afford the extra fees? It is a large amount of money for rural migrants here. It is just not fair to them.' The Beijing city Government charges each migrant child 1,200 yuan (HK$1,132) a year to 'borrow a place to study'. Sending children to state-run schools has become a luxury for many migrants. Migrants also question whether their children - without residence permits - can go on to high school and sit university entrance exams. Many children find it difficult to change schools when their parents move to other cities. On August 30, the Nanfang Weekly accused education authorities of obstructing the reform of residence registration because of their interest in the income derived from the extra fees. But analysts say a degree of control over private schools is necessary because education has become a lucrative business, and some private schools turn out to be scams. The Government faces the urgent task of identifying profit-seeking education institutes as the number of private schools in China grows, according to Wang Ming, director of a research centre in Tsinghua University, Beijing. In recent years there has been a boom in the number of private schools for rural migrants and elite students, as well as a multitude of institutes for students who miss out on university places, Dr Wang said. 'Some private schools are making big bucks. Since there is no law to distinguish profit-seeking and non-profit-seeking education institutes, they are all categorised as non-profit-seeking institutes.' Dr Wang said different regulations were needed for the two categories of private schools. Ms Zhang denied she was running the school to make a profit. 'During the past few years, I have invested every yuan I earned to improve the school,' she said. 'We even provide free education and accommodation to a few mentally retarded children and orphans.' Co-headmaster Jin Zhigang said officials were welcome to assess the standard of the school. 'There should be assessments on private schools like ours. If we reach the standard, we should be allowed to continue.'