IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Hundreds of pupils in England 'on track towards fluency' in Mandarin

19 October 2017

Confucius Institute Chinese lesson

The Government-funded Mandarin Excellence Programme, delivered by the UCL Institute of Education (IOE) in partnership with the British Council, starts its second year this term.

Progress test results indicate that the first cohort of almost 400 pupils from 14 schools across England are excelling when it comes to learning Mandarin Chinese - the most spoken language in the world. The majority of pupils achieved marks of 80% or higher across specially created tests in reading, writing, listening and speaking.

The Programme will see at least 5,000 pupils in England on track towards fluency in Mandarin Chinese by 2020, and an additional 23 schools across England will start the Programme this term. Pupils on the Programme spend an average of eight hours per week studying the language, which includes four hours in the classroom - a significant increase on the time usually spent on a language in school.

Katharine Carruthers, Director of the IOE's Confucius Institute for Schools said: "The progress that learners have made after their first year participating in the Mandarin Excellence Programme is exceptional. The test results from the end of year one demonstrate the success and the impact that it is having.

" "This year we are delighted to welcome additional schools, which will ensure that more than 1,000 new learners across the country are given the opportunity to learn Chinese to such an advanced level."

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb added: "Mandarin Chinese is an important language to learn in our globally competitive economy. I am pleased that this Programme is continuing to grow, allowing more pupils to be taught Mandarin at an advanced level.

"I would like to congratulate the first cohort of students on their success. They have achieved some excellent results thanks to their hard work and dedication. This will give them a significant advantage when competing in the global jobs market, and is particularly important as we prepare to leave the European Union."

Speaking about her experience of the Programme, 12-year-old Carla Turbides from Anglo European School said: "The best thing about the Mandarin Excellence Programme is learning about another language and culture, and doing it together with your friends. It's a great programme that offers amazing opportunities for the future."

In addition to improving students' fluency in the language, the IOE, in collaboration with other providers, aims to have trained at least 100 newly qualified Chinese teachers by the end of the Programme.

The Confucius Institute, based at the IOE, already has a network of 45 Confucius Classrooms across England and supports schools in starting and developing the teaching and learning of Mandarin Chinese and the study of China across other areas of the curriculum.

Get involved

State schools in England can apply to join the Mandarin Excellence Programme from 2018 with funding available to support successful delivery. As part of the programme, some pupils will have the chance to go to China from summer 2018.

More information about the programme and how to get involved can be found on the Confucius Institute website.

Media contact

Rowan Walker
Email: r.walker@ucl.ac.uk
Tel: +44 (0)20 3108 8815