Mandarin milestone in languages Baccalaureate

2nd September 2011 at 01:00
Glasgow student makes top grade as interest in Chinese hits new heights

The first pupil to receive a Scottish languages Baccalaureate which includes Mandarin is spearheading a growing trend in learning Chinese for future careers.

David Yang has achieved A grades in Advanced Highers in Mandarin, French and English at Hillhead High in Glasgow.

In another first, it was the inaugural year of Mandarin being offered at Advanced Higher level and he was the only one to sit it.

The 17-year-old is among a growing cohort of pupils benefiting from the school's status as a centre of excellence for learning Chinese.

Hillhead High is one of eight Confucius Classrooms across Scotland which offer a focus on the language and culture of China.

Although David is himself Chinese and Mandarin is the language he speaks with his family, more pupils who have no Chinese heritage are also taking exams at the school to give them access to the job prospects which the language can provide.

Depute headteacher Tommy Gough said: "David's success is a real encouragement to other pupils. He is a role model for them. We have quite a high percentage of Chinese pupils here and in the past it was mainly the Mandarin speakers who took a Chinese language, but now we have a lot of classes, from S1 to S4, where it is Scottish youngsters who are picking Mandarin as their modern language instead of French.

"China is a developing economic market, so if we can equip our youngsters with some basic Mandarin it will help them in the workforce. It's an employable skill and it is still an unusual string to their bow. The Confucius hubs across Scotland are attracting a lot of attention."

Hillhead High has been a Confucius hub for around two years. Its status as a centre of excellence for Chinese qualifies the school for support including funding from the Chinese Government for a full-time teacher of Mandarin.

Hillhead High also has links with a school in China and has taken part in teacher exchange programmes helping both staff and pupils.

David, who spoke out about the need to promote Chinese in Scotland at the Scottish Youth Parliament last year, has accepted a university place at King's College London to study languages and musical composition.

Further progress for independents

Exam results at Scotland's independent schools continued to improve this year, although the number of pupils doing the Scottish Baccalaureate qualification dropped by a third.

More than half of all S5 Higher pupils (53 per cent) were awarded the top grade in 2011, up from 51 per cent last year, while the number of candidates achieving an A at Advanced Higher level has increased by more than 20 per cent in the past three years, from 38 per cent to 47 per cent.

Only three of the 36 independent schools offered the Scottish Baccalaureate, but more than half of the entries received distinctions.

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