Chinese in UK Schools

In the growing number of schools where Mandarin Chinese is on the curriculum, you find young people really motivated by learning the language and by learning about Chinese culture.

Research of schools in England show that there has been a significant increase in the teaching of Chinese in schools; in 2005 only 7-8% of state secondary schools were offering Chinese. Now that number has gone up to 13%, alongside 46% of independent schools (CfBT Languages Trends 2015/16). It is the strongest of the lesser-taught languages across the sectors.

BACS is actively involved in initiatives to promote the study of Chinese and about China in the school curriculum. Here are Five Great Reasons to Study Chinese.


Working together

BACS Schools Liaison Officer, Katharine Carruthers, is the Director of the UCL IOE Confucius Institute for Schools (IOE CI), an England-wide teaching network, delivering Mandarin Chinese teacher training and development, creating and enhancing resources for the teaching of Chinese as a foreign language and leading on the delivery of major projects to enhance the teaching and learning of Chinese across all schools.

The UCL IOE CI website contains lots of useful information about the teaching and learning of Chinese in schools. The webpages include a Chinese teaching blog, information about many IOE CI teacher training courses including the Languages PGCE course with specific Mandarin Chinese input led by UCL, networking opportunities, events and lots of free teaching resources. The website also provides access to information about the HSBC Mandarin Chinese for Primary Schools Programme, Annual Student Camps in China and the annual Schools and Universities Day, an event which links pupils, teachers and universities from across the UK. It also provides links to find out more about the UCL IOE CI Annual Chinese Conference, which is the largest CPD opportunity of its kind in the UK.

In September 2016 The Mandarin Excellence Programme (MEP) – led by participating schools, supported by the UCL Institute of Education (IOE CI) in partnership with the British Council and the first language learning initiative of its kind in the UK – was launched to state schools in England and has seen hundreds of secondary school pupils start intensive Mandarin lessons.

For more information about the UCL IOE Confucius Institute, visit

The British Council’s Schools Partnership programme with China offers a range of opportunities for schools and teachers, including school partnerships (Connecting Classrooms), Chinese Language Assistants, language immersion courses for pupils, and classroom materials. The HSBC/British Council Chinese speaking competition for schools is an annual opportunity to reward secondary pupils and bring them together with pupils from other school who are learning Mandarin.

British Council Chinese language assistants work in UK schools to support an existing Mandarin provision or introduce the language and culture to pupils for the first time.

The UK-China partnership programme offers funding for a school and their Chinese partnership school to work on a joint project together. The funding can be used for teacher visits, professional development or project expenses.

For more information about British Council programmes, visit


Get involved

To be involved with the school teaching community for Mandarin Chinese, sign up to the IOE CI Mandarin Chinese Teaching JISCMail e-forum, which, with over 800 registered users acts as a ‘virtual’ staffroom for Chinese teachers across the UK. The e-forum is free of charge and members use it to exchange ideas, support and advise each other, and share relevant opportunities such as job vacancies and network meetings.

If a school is interested in enrolling on the Mandarin Excellence Programme please download and submit the expression of interest form from the IOE CI MEP webpages.

Alternatively if a school is looking for support with the teaching and learning of Chinese in either the Primary or Secondary sector and think IOE CI may be able to help, please email them at