Since being selected to participate in the Department for Education’s national Mandarin Excellence Programme earlier this year, students at Saint Gregory’s have been busy honing their language skills in a bid to promote the importance of an international education in the 21st Century.

Last week, students from Year 7 started on a new and exciting pathway to proficiency in Chinese as they officially began their studies in the Mandarin Excellence Programme. All students taking part have committed to extra classes, homework and activity days, with the exciting prospect of two weeks studying in China at the end of Year 8. 

Ann Cusack, Headteacher, explained, “Our students have truly embraced the Mandarin Excellence Programme and are excited by the global opportunities open to them as part of this new partnership. Saint Gregory’s also holds full accreditation of the British Council’s prestigious International School Award in recognition of our work to bring the world into the classroom and educate young people about their global community. Over the past few weeks and months, since being selected for the programme, we have seen just how impactful this approach is on the learning of students and the great fun they have had developing new language skills.”

“The Mandarin Excellence Programme reflects the international ethos that is embedded throughout Saint Gregory’s, promoting international partnerships and providing students with a vibrant and stimulating curriculum with opportunities to broaden and enhance their creative and communication skills to meet the needs of an ever-changing world.”

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, nationally, will see at least 5,000 school pupils in England on track towards fluency in Mandarin Chinese by 2020. Saint Gregory’s is one of only 37 state schools across the country to be selected to join the programme.

Saint Gregory’s was selected for the MEP as a result of its long-standing commitment to the teaching of Mandarin.  Last week, a delegation of seven GCSE Mandarin students from Years 10 and 11 travelled to London to represent the school in the HSBC British Council Mandarin Speaking Competition, impressing the audience with a unique combination of performing arts and language skills, as they penned and produced a short play about the mishaps of a short-sighted stork. They now eagerly await the results hoping to secure a place in the finals.

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.