IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


School pupils meet Birmingham Kung Fu master during Chinese language day

10 April 2019

Ninety 11- and 12-year-old pupils came together in Sutton Coldfield on Saturday 6 April for a day of intensive Mandarin lessons and Chinese cultural activities.

Kung Fu lessons at Mandarin-themed event. Image: Garazi photography

The event, which formed part of schools’ participation in the Mandarin Excellence Programme, delivered by UCL Institute of Education (IOE), included a demonstration from Kung Fu master and Birmingham native Chris Crudelli.

Chris, who was born in Birmingham and grew up in Halesowen, is a qualified Kung Fu master who trained in Hong Kong and spent several decades developing his skills in temples across China. As well as showing off some Kung Fu moves to the pupils, he shared how his knowledge of Mandarin enabled him to embark on a varied career path including BBC documentary maker and award-winning author.
The Mandarin Excellence Programme, delivered by the IOE in partnership with the British Council, will see 5,000 secondary school pupils in England on track towards fluency in Mandarin by 2020. Pupils on the unique programme, which is funded by the Department for Education, commit to eight hours of Mandarin study a week.

Kung Fu teacher talking to school pupils as part of themed Mandarin Day. Image: Garazi photography

During Saturday’s intensive study day in Sutton Coldfield, pupils practiced reading and writing in Chinese script and learnt a traditional chopsticks dance.

A 2017 the British Council’s Languages for the Future report found that Mandarin is now the second most important foreign language for the UK’s influence on the global stage.

Katharine Carruthers, Director of the IOE Confucius Institute for Schools, and strategic director of the Mandarin Excellence Programme, said: “The Mandarin Excellence Programme has enabled students from different schools to get together and use their newly acquired language skills outside of the normal classroom context. Pupils on the programme have developed a real camaraderie through their experience of learning this language, which opens up a window into other cultures and ways of thinking.”



Images: Garazi photography