2017 Conference – Katharine Carruthers interview

The 2017 Annual Chinese Teaching Conference is taking place this Friday and Saturday. We spoke to IOE CI Director, Katharine Carruthers to ask her about the workshop element of this year’s Conference. Here’s what she had to say…

  1. Hi Katharine. The Mandarin Excellence Programme (MEP) has become an integral part of the IOE CI’s work in the last year. How will the MEP be incorporated into the Conference this year?

The MEP certainly has become an integral part of the IOE CI’s work. As an organisation, we are very keen that a lot of the resources we develop for the MEP will be made more widely available and this is why the MEP itself is going to be integrated into this year’s Conference. We also want to tell our delegates about it because wePMP_7322 clearly hope to encourage and increase the number of people taking part in the programme. At the Conference, there will be a discussion in one of the plenaries about the MEP and it will be led by headteachers and teachers involved in the programme, so it will give an overview on where we are in this first year, how the year 7s have progressed in studying on the MEP and also what the schools think of the programme. Many elements of the Conference will touch on the MEP because a lot of the teachers delivering the workshops and contributing to the plenaries are themselves delivering the programme and will be referring to their year 7 intensive learning MEP, as well as their teaching more widely.

  1. The new GCSE specification is something that has caused some concern for teachers across all subjects in the UK. Can you tell us how the Conference will approach these concerns in regards to Mandarin Chinese teachers?

The only thing we can all do for the new GCSE specification is to be as prepared as possible. We are slightly lucky for Chinese in that we’ve got an extra year because the new specification for other languages are already underway; they are currently being taught and the first candidates will be doing the exams next summer in 2018, whereas our first teaching begins this September and it won’t be until 2019 that our candidates sit their GCSEs.

PMP_6584That’s the good news, so how can we be prepared?  Well clearly, we can prepare ourselves through training and thinking about it in good time. Michelle Tate and Yan Hua will be discussing the new elements of the GCSE exams as part of their Conference workshop. Both have been heavily involved and working extremely hard on revising the GCSE Pearson textbook so that it matches and is in line with the new GCSE specification. Their workshop will also look at teaching the new GCSE specification and how to prepare for it in your classroom. The GCSE Pearson textbooks will have advance copies available in time for the Conference with the first books coming into shops at the end of June. There are plenty of other workshops that will be of use, not least differentiated activities, engaging and stretching learners, working with technology etc.

  1. We have a variety of workshops this year. Can you tell us which workshops you are particularly looking forward to and why?

I always find this type of question very difficult to answer because there are so many workshops I look forward to. I always enjoy, and this is just a personal view, the ones about technology because I think Conference is a really good time to think about what you would do if you had the time and it gives a bit of space at the end of the academic year to think about how you might change your classroom. There are quite a few workshops this year about technology; specifically one on learning with the Chairman’s Bao, which quite a lot of schools have been using this year and which is developing fast due to the people at the Chairman’s Bao listening to what teachers want and developing their platform to meet the demands.

I also am interested and encouraged by the number of schools who are thinking about the culture paper of Pre U in particular, but also literature and film more widely across the curriculum. I think James Trapp’s ‘The Blue Kite and Beyond’ workshop will be of interest and also Helen Lewis’ workshop on strategies for teaching Pre U literature. Anything about the target language keeps me happy because I think we can all use it more than we do. One of my PGCE students is working with a new arrival at the IOE CI, Dr. Pan Lin on action research in the Chinese classroom and this is something we would really like to develop over the next year.

I am bound to have missed quite a few workshops as there are really too many to mention. The difficulty for all delegates will be as ever, choosing which workshops to go to but we will as always put the presentations and resources up online after the Conference.


Thank-you Katharine!

Please click here to see the Conference programme and all the workshops plus more mentioned in this post.

To find out more about the Conference and to book a place, please visit: https://ci.ioe.ac.uk/annual-chinese-teaching-conference2017/