The lure of the Orient
From September, the Chinese Overseas Movement of Advanced Culture, a charity representing the Chinese educational bureau in Britain, will supply volunteer tutors of Mandarin to schools for up to 22 hours a week. Smaller schools can team up to help cover the tutors' accommodation costs.
Last month, the Government lifted the requirement for all schools to offer pupils a European language, encouraging them to teach other languages that will be useful in the future, such as Mandarin and Urdu.
The Chinese scheme coincides with a warning from the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority that most secondary schools received no information from primary schools about Year 7 pupils' language skills. This is despite the fact that 70 per cent of primaries now offer a language.
Isabella Moore, the director of the National Centre for Languages, said:
"There is no formal assessment system. It's one reason why primary languages haven't taken off."