IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Intensive Mandarin learning for hundreds of school pupils in England

14 July 2017

MEP learning day girls


Hundreds of pupils put their Mandarin skills to the test this week at the Mandarin Excellence Programme's first ever intensive learning day. The Programme - which is being delivered by the UCL Institute of Education (IOE), in partnership with the British Council - launched last September and is funded by the Department for Education. 

Held at the IOE, the intensive learning day saw Year 7 pupils on the Programme completing a series of tasks specifically designed to put them through their linguistic paces. Activities included a 'Talking Treasure Hunt' around campus, classroom lessons and a singing performance in Mandarin Chinese. Pupils were also given the opportunity to hear from some sixth form and university students about their experiences of studying Mandarin and spending time in China.

MEP smiling boy

In addition to being the first ever intensive learning day for those participating in the Mandarin Excellence Programme, it is also the first time that the majority of the pupils on the national initiative have come together in one place.

The Mandarin Excellence Programme ultimately aims to see 5,000 pupils on track towards fluency in Mandarin Chinese by 2020 - with almost 400 pupils set to complete the first year of the programme this summer. Pupils on the programme study Mandarin for eight hours on average every week.

MEP learning day group

Speaking about being part of the programme, 12-year-old Chijioke Davies who is a pupil at Dartford Grammar School in Kent - one of the schools taking part in the intensive language day - said:

"I joined the Mandarin Excellence Programme because I wanted to have a bigger challenge than regular Chinese lessons. The best thing about being part of the [programme] is that I have something to be proud of and I can say that I am good at a language.

" "If anyone is thinking about joining the programme, I would say that they should join because it is an amazing experience."

Katharine Carruthers, Director of the IOE's Confucius Institute for Schools, said:

"The UCL Institute of Education is delighted to be delivering the DfE's Mandarin Excellence Programme. This programme provides a real boost and unique opportunity for more motivated pupils to be on track towards fluency in Mandarin - intensive learning is an important part of that. All of the pupils who attended this innovative teaching day are clearly benefitting from being part of the programme."

MEP learning day boys

Mandarin Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world, and is seen as important for young people in the UK to master in order for the country to remain globally competitive in the future.

Register your interest in the Programme

Schools in England can find out more about the programme and register their interest in joining from 2018 by visiting the Confucius Institute for Schools website.

Media coverage

Media contact

James Russell
Tel: 020 3108 8516
Email: james.russell@ucl.ac.uk