Frequently Asked Questions

This page answers frequently asked questions about UCL IOE Confucius Institute for Schools.

What does the UCL Institute of Education Confucius Institute (IOE CI) do?

IOE CI supports the mainstreaming of Chinese teaching across schools in England, alongside French, German, Spanish and other languages. This work, supported by the British Council and the DfE, includes writing and developing language teaching materials for use in English schools with Pearson, training local teachers, and research. The learning of Chinese is popular with pupils and has huge benefits by furthering cultural engagement and broadening the horizons of young people.

What are IOE Confucius Classrooms?

IOE Confucius Classrooms are a group of mainstream schools across England who have Chinese embedded in their curriculum. There are currently 43 IOE Confucius Classrooms, in a variety of different English schools (state-maintained and independent), teaching pupils at different Key Stages from reception to Year 13. The significant majority are secondary schools.

What agreement does IOE CI have with Chinese organisations?

IOE CI is a bilateral partnership between UCL and Peking University (PKU) which does not involve any Government organisation in China.

The bilateral partnership agreement between UCL and Peking University began in October 2020 when the use of the CI Brand was transferred to the PKU/UCL partnership. This means that UCL and PKU can use the brand, name and CI logo and develop the IOE CI in a way that they see fit.

What agreement do IOE Confucius Classrooms have with IOE CI?

Each IOE Confucius Classroom has an agreement with UCL IOE CI which is governed by English law and covers adherence to data protection and freedom of information. The agreement is unique to the arrangement between IOE CI and IOE Confucius Classrooms. The key requirements of being an IOE Confucius Classroom are to:

  • deliver Mandarin Chinese on curriculum with a locally employed teacher in post
  • have a development plan for the delivery of Chinese teaching for the school that has headteacher approval
  • be committed to supporting other schools in the locality to develop Chinese, where requested
  • be willing to host a UCL IOE PGCE student who is training to teach Chinese

Do IOE Confucius Classrooms have an agreement with any organisations in China?

No. IOE Confucius classrooms schools do not have any agreements with organisations in China through IOE CI.

Are teachers in IOE Confucius Classrooms free to teach or speak about issues that are critical of the Chinese Government?

Teachers in IOE Confucius Classrooms are free to teach whatever material they think is suitable for their pupils. We are not aware of any threats to free speech or open debate within either the university or the IOE Confucius Classrooms since we have been running this programme.

Does IOE CI tell IOE Confucius Classroom teachers what teaching materials to use?

No. Chinese teachers at IOE Confucius Classrooms choose and buy whatever teaching materials they feel are best suited to their pupils, in the same way that any other language teaching materials are chosen by a school.

Are IOE CI or IOE Confucius Classrooms accountable to the Centre for Language Education and Cooperation (CLEC) or any agency in China regarding teaching quality in IOE Confucius Classrooms or at the University?

No. Chinese teachers at IOE Confucius Classrooms are employed by their school in the same way as any other teacher. Staff working at the IOE CI are employed by UCL under UCL terms and conditions.

Is there an obligation for IOE CI or IOE Confucius Classrooms to use materials which have been developed in China, by CLEC or by any other Chinese organisation?

No. IOE CI has never used or distributed CLEC teaching materials directly to schools. Nor have schools ever been told what teaching materials to use. Schools use their own teaching materials and buy textbooks from publishers in the UK just like they would for any other language they are teaching as part of the school day. This includes those that have been written with Pearson by UCL employed staff at IOE CI.

Where do IOE Confucius Classrooms get their Chinese teachers from?

Teacher recruitment is the responsibility of the school. IOE Confucius Classroom schools recruit teachers of Mandarin Chinese using the same recruitment methods as they would for a teacher of any other subject. Some may also host a Mandarin student teacher.

Do teachers from China work in IOE Confucius Classrooms?

Teachers from China work in some IOE Confucius Classrooms as teaching assistants, under the management of the school’s own teacher of Chinese.

What funding can IOE Confucius Classrooms apply for?

Each school can apply for up to £7,500 (approximately $10,000 US) per year to support their Chinese teaching. Applications for funding often include costs for local outreach which involves working with other schools in the area, textbooks and online subscriptions for learning software chosen by the school’s local teacher, trips to places of educational interest, for instance Chinatown and museums, and activities that enhance pupil’s experience of learning Chinese language eg speakers and performances. All applications are made to, and are assessed by IOE CI annually.

Historically and at present what Confucius Classroom data is reported by IOE CI to the Centre for Language Exchange and Cooperation (CLEC) and Peking University (PKU)?

No school pupil details are collected by IOE CI for the purpose of sharing with CLEC or PKU or any other Chinese organisation.  Any data that is collected is anonymised by the schools before sending it to IOE CI.  For example: numbers of school pupils studying Chinese on curriculum in IOE Confucius Classrooms schools or participating in extra-curricular Chinese teaching (clubs). These would be an aggregate headcounts of pupils, containing no personal data at all.

How does UCL Institute of Education support the teaching of other languages beyond Mandarin Chinese?

The IOE’s Centre for Languages and International Education offers courses in nine foreign languages as credit-bearing modules for UCL degree students and as evening courses for UCL students, staff and London’s wider academic and professional community. The IOE’s Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) Languages programme has approximately 80 student teachers per year, following either the French, German, Spanish or Mandarin pathways and preparing to be teachers in schools across England. The work across the IOE on languages is underpinned by the research and teaching of IOE’s Centre for Applied Linguistics.