London Festival of Education 2015


The UCL Institute of Education hosted, with TES, the London Festival of Education on Saturday 28th February. Mandarin learning was well represented with a series of events organised by the UCL IOE Confucius Institute for Schools, including a lively discussion panel, a Mandarin taster class and performances from local schools.

P1020018 Starting the Mandarin proceedings was a discussion panel on the topic of “Teaching and Learning of Mandarin in Diverse London Schools.” Panel participants were Joan Deslandes (Head Teacher, Kingsford Community School), Jay Naidoo (Head of Languages, Alexandra Park School), Jennifer Buster (Assistant Director of Learning, St Mary Magdelene Academy) and Bukola Osofisan (student, Our Lady’s Convent High School) and the panel was chaired by Katharine Carruthers (UCL IOE CI Director).

Joan Deslandes emphasised that strategic purpose and collaboration were key to developing Mandarin in schools, with Jay Naidoo and Jennifer Buster both agreeing that having a Head Teacher with a vision, and willing to support the subject, is crucial in developing Mandarin.

P1020014The panel also highlighted the impact of learning Mandarin on their students, both inside and outside schools, with Katharine commenting on the ways in which it can open young minds to experiencing the world in a different way, and Joan stressing that Mandarin opens doors for students. Jay emphasised the need to get learners excited and motivated to drive your school’s Mandarin goals, a comment supported by Bukola, who said that it was predominantly her teacher’s passion and encouragement that has kept her studying Mandarin to higher levels.

P1020044After such positive comments about the impact and progression of Mandarin across diverse London schools, the audience were then given a firsthand experience of learning Mandarin, in a demonstration Mandarin taster session, led by Leng Xuenian and Chris Webster, two of UCL IOE’s Secondary PGCE Languages (Mandarin)students. In 30 minutes, the group learnt basic greetings and how to count from 1-99, even learning how to count with their hand, Chinese style.


The final Mandarin input for the day came from wonderful, entertaining perfomances in the main reception by students from Kingsford Community School and Our Lady’s Convent High School. Performing entirely in Mandarin, the students demonstrated their language skills and creativity with original dramas developed by themselves in their Mandarin class. The audience was certainly surprised and impressed by their strong performances!


Thank you to everyone who helped make this such a positive day for all. We certainly demonstrated the value and importance of including Mandarin in your school’s vision, now and in the future.