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SCC selected to join nationwide Mandarin programme

We are proud to launch our Mandarin Excellence Programme. 

Now in its second year, the intensive language programme is being delivered by the UCL Institute of Education in partnership with the British Council and will see at least 5,000 school pupils in England on track towards fluency in Mandarin Chinese by 2020.

Pupils from St Catherine’s will start the programme alongside pupils from 22 other schools across England this term and will spend an average of eight hours per week studying Mandarin – a significant increase on the time pupils currently spend on the subject. 

Progress test results from the 14 schools who have just completed the first year of the programme show that the Year 7 pupils’ skills are developing at pace.

The Principal at St Catherine’s College, Mark Talbot, is extremely excited about this wonderful opportunity for his students.  “We are honoured and thrilled to be taking part in this programme.  Our aim is to produce highly motivated, highly skilled global citizens who will be ahead of their peers in terms of communication skills and employability.”   Newton Leng, Head of Languages at St Catherine’s, added, “This is an intensive and accelerated programme, consisting of a taught element, on-line learning, enrichment days, university immersion weeks and visits to China."

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.

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said: “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.”

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 Confucius Institute, based at the UCL Institute of Education 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.

Katharine Carruthers, Director of the UCL Institute Of Education (IOE) Confucius Institute 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 of the programme demonstrate the success and the impact that it is having. This year we are delighted to welcome additional schools joining the programme 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.”

Mark Herbert, Head of Schools Programmes at the British Council said: “Mandarin Chinese is one of the languages that matters most to the UK’s prosperity – and its importance is only likely to increase as the UK repositions itself on the world stage.

“If the UK is to remain globally competitive, we need far more young people leaving school with a good grasp of Mandarin in order to successfully work abroad or for businesses here in the UK. More than that, learning Mandarin is a fascinating process which creates a connection to the amazing Chinese culture and over a billion Chinese speakers globally.” 



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