UCL News


UCL Institute of Education leads Mandarin teaching initiative

7 September 2016

A new £10 million Mandarin Excellence Programme, led by the UCL Institute of Education (IOE), will see at least 5,000 young people on track towards fluency in Mandarin Chinese by 2020.

Mandarin Excellence Programme

The programme, the first initiative of its kind, funded by the DfE and run by the IOE in partnership with the British Council, is being rolled out to secondary schools across the country with the start of the new school year. There are 15 schools participating in the first wave of the programme, and hundreds of secondary school pupils in England have already begun intensive lessons in Mandarin Chinese.

Pupils will study Mandarin for eight hours a week over the course of the next four years through the programme - a significant increase on the time pupils currently spend on the subject. 

Katharine Caruthers, Director of the IOE's Confucius Institute said: "UCL Institute of Education is delighted to be delivering the DfE's Mandarin Excellence Programme. Over the last decade, our work in schools has inspired increasing numbers of secondary school pupils to take up Mandarin Chinese. This programme provides a real boost and unique opportunity for more motivated pupils to be on track towards fluency in Mandarin.

"We are also developing new innovative teaching methods which will benefit the young people on the programme as well as the wider cohort of pupils learning Mandarin Chinese in our schools."

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. The programme is part of a government drive which intends to extend opportunity for young people, whatever their background.

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said: "A high level of fluency in Mandarin Chinese will become increasingly important in our globally competitive economy. As part of our drive to extend opportunity, we want to give young people the opportunity to study the language and to acquire fluency in both spoken and written Mandarin.

"The Mandarin Excellence Programme helps us achieve this, offering intensive study in the language which will not only be personally enriching for students, but will also give them a significant advantage when they enter the world of work."

In addition to improving students' fluency in the language, the UCL Institute of Education, in collaboration with other providers, aims to have trained at least 100 new qualified Chinese teachers by the end of the programme.

The IOE's Confucius Institute already has a network of 42 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.

Peking University have been the IOE Confucius Institute's Chinese partners since 2006, and UCL President & Provost, Professor Michael Arthur, welcomed their President, Professor Lin Jianhua, in April to explore further the opportunities for collaboration and encourage strategic partnership.



  • Teacher and pupil learning Mandarin Chinese (Courtesy of Phil Meech)

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