UCL Consultants Ltd


UCL-led Mandarin language programme for schools to continue for a further three years

23 August 2021

An innovative language programme led by UCL Institute of Education (IOE), which has helped thousands of school pupils in England learn Mandarin Chinese, has been awarded a further three years’ funding.

Students participating in the Mandarin Excellence Programme

The Mandarin Excellence Programme (MEP), delivered by UCL IOE and the British Council, was set up in 2016 and gives participating secondary schools the chance to offer eight hours a week of Mandarin Chinese study, compared to two hours a week.

So far more nearly 6,500 pupils across England have benefitted from the more intensive language learning programme, which starts in Year 7.

The Department for Education has confirmed the programme will receive three years additional funding 2021-2023, with the next cohort of pupils enrolling this September.

It follows a DfE commissioned evaluation report* published in January this year, which concluded the programme had exceeded its target of seeing at least 5,000 pupils in England on track towards fluency in the language by 2020.

Katharine Carruthers, Director of the UCL IOE Confucius Institute said: “I am delighted that UCL Institute of Education and the British Council have been selected to deliver the next phase of the Mandarin Excellence Programme (MEP). This is an exciting and ground-breaking initiative – nothing else like it exists. Over the last five years, MEP schools and teachers have achieved fantastic outcomes with their pupils, and we look forward to continuing to work with them to achieve success and to develop more fluent Mandarin speakers over the coming years.”

Around 2,000 new Year 7 pupils will join the programme each year from September 2021, from 75 schools across England. They will receive intensive Mandarin learning made up of four taught hours and four hours of self-study – significantly more time than most schools spend on languages. This will include the provision of innovative online and blended learning and training making best use of technology.

For more than 15 years, UCL IOE and the British Council have led the way in introducing and spreading innovation in Mandarin provision, with national initiatives including work to secure a major expansion in the teaching and learning of Mandarin Chinese throughout the English school system, the IOE Mandarin PGCE, Chinese teaching assistants, and the Mandarin Speaking Competition. Together they successfully delivered the MEP from 2016 to 2021, achieving their aim of getting more than 5000 pupils on track to fluency in Mandarin.

UCL Consultants are supporting the UCL IOE Confucius Institute with the contractual elements and project management for this new term.

Nick Gibb, Minister of State for School Standards, said: “The Mandarin Excellence Programme has enabled more than 6,000 pupils in over 70 schools to learn one of the great world languages. Committing to 8 hours a week of study, these pupils are on their way to fluency in Mandarin. It has been a hugely successful programme, which is why I’m delighted to be able to announce its continuation and a further £16.4 million of funding.”

MEP evaluation report

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Mandarin Excellence Programme, credit Phil Meech photography