The Specialist School and Academies Trust (SSAT) Confucius Institute was established in 2006. It formally opened in July 2007 with 5 SSAT Confucius Classrooms and Peking University as its partner university in China, along with support from Peking University High School.
SSAT Confucius Institute transferred to the UCL Institute of Education (IOE) in June 2012 to become the UCL IOE Confucius Institute for Schools (IOE CI) with a network of 45 Confucius Classrooms. The move enabled IOE CI Mandarin specialists to work with colleagues at the IOE to develop the IOE PGCE Languages (Mandarin pathway) and thus make a significant difference to what was then – in 2012 – the major barrier to the growth of the language in schools – teacher supply. The work of IOE CI is centred on enabling Chinese to be taught in secondary schools, alongside other languages – predominantly French, Spanish and German. As well as training local teachers of Chinese, this encompasses developing teaching materials for use in English schools (in collaboration with Pearson) and working to ensure appropriate GCSE and A-level Chinese examinations.
We believe there to be enormous benefit in enabling school pupils to learn Mandarin Chinese, on the grounds of broadening language options in schools, furthering cultural engagement, and in response to China’s growing importance on the world economic stage. As indicated above, the IOE CI is focussed on the development of Chinese language teaching in schools. Our experience is that hosting the Institute has not posed any threat to free and open debate within either the university or the schools with which we work. We believe cultural engagement and exchange is valuable to all parties.