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Mandarin: 120 primaries to get support to introduce lessons

Many teachers will be pretty bored with hearing how important it is for young people to learn Mandarin Chinese.

According to recent surveys, only around nine per cent of secondary schools actually teach it and in the primary sector, only around three per cent of schools are thought to offer the subject.

While the small minority maybe adopting the idea with gusto, to many frustrated headteachers it still seems like an impossibly exotic dream.

But there may now be some welcome good news for those hoping to put Mandarin on the timetable.

The Confucious Institute, based at London’s Institute of Education, is launching a new programme which hopes to bring Mandarin to 120 primary schools over five years.

The numbers are not huge in the big scheme of things – they aim to reach 3,500 pupils – but in the context of Mandarin teaching, they are significant.

The Confucious Institute, which is the equivalent of communist China’s “British Council, aims to bring Mandarin to primaries by exploiting its existing network of 37 existing “Confucious Classrooms” based primarily in secondary schools.

The classrooms are designed as centres of excellence in Mandarin teaching, which support surrounding skills who want to offer the subject.

The project, funded by the HSBC Global Action Programme, also aims to develop the most effective ways to teach Chinese language and culture at a primary level.

The scheme will start by focusing on 30 primary schools in the first year.

Katharine Carruthers, director of the IOE Confucius Institute for Schools, said: "Mandarin Chinese is one of the fastest growing languages in the world and it is crucial that the language is being taught effectively in schools around England.

“This move will benefit many school communities who would not otherwise have the opportunity to study this subject.”

Let's hope it takes off and that schools can find the staff willing to make it happen.




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