Sowing Mandarin seed

The first comprehensive assessment of how widely and effectively Chinese language and culture are taught to Scotland's young people will be completed this year.

Vincent Oates, of Strathclyde University's department of curricular studies, believes the research is crucial to Scottish Executive plans for improving links with China. "We can only support these laudable aims if we more fully understand the quality of the interface at every level," he said. "Massive attention is now being paid across the political, cultural and economic spectrum to our interface with the People's Republic of China, but only post-18."

Dr Oates, a modern studies teacher, explained that his work would be the first national survey of its type, involving all of Scotland's secondary schools and further education colleges. Funds permitting, he will then assess all primary schools.

He will look at issues such as existing aspects of the modern studies syllabus dealing with China, centres that would consider offering Mandarin, twinning, exchanges and Chinese teachers in Scotland. This will result in an audit of existing teaching, centres of good practice being identified, encouragement offered to interested schools and individuals, and recommendations on what to do next.

Dr Oates has been supported by the executive, with a question on China included in a Learning and Teaching Scotland survey of Scottish schools and international education. He hopes to have preliminary results analysed by May, with a follow-up survey and report by October.

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