Saint Gregory’s Catholic College in Bath has been selected to participate in the Department for Education’s national Mandarin Excellence Programme.

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 will see at least 5,000 school pupils in England on track towards fluency in Mandarin Chinese by 2020.

Pupils from Saint Grgeory’s will start the programme alongside pupils from 22 other schools across England this term and will spend an average of eight hours per week studying Mandarin – a significant increase on the time pupils currently spend on the subject.

Progress test results from the 14 schools who have just completed the first year of the programme show that the Year 7 pupils’ skills are developing at pace.

Ann Cusack, Headteacher, said, “We are thrilled to have been accepted onto the Mandarin Excellence Programme, allowing our students to embrace the many global opportunities available to them through this new and exciting 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.”

“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 that meets the needs of an ever-changing world.”

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.

In addition to improving students’ fluency in the language, the UCL Institute of Education, in collaboration with other providers, aims to have trained at least 100 new qualified Chinese teachers by the end of the programme.

The Confucius Institute, based at the UCL Institute of Education, already has a network of 45 Confucius Classrooms across England and supports schools in starting and developing the teaching and learning of Mandarin Chinese and the study of China across other areas of the curriculum.

State schools in England can apply to join the Mandarin Excellence Programme from 2018 with funding available to support successful delivery. As part of the programme, some pupils will have the chance to go to China from summer 2018.

More information about the programme and how to get involved can be found here