Woodside Academy wins Chinese Embassy Year of the Sheep New Year Competition

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To celebrate the Year of the Sheep 2015 the Education Section of the Chinese Embassy in London generously sponsored a competition through the UCL IOE Confucius Institute. The competition was open to a group of primary schools new to Mandarin and the brief was as wide as possible to allow creative genius full rein. The task was to create a sheep (or goat), which could be real or virtual, and then to film its use in the school’s celebration of the New Year. Entries were rich and varied using all manner of techniques including stop-motion animation and shadow-puppetry and the sheep that were created showed all the inventiveness in use of material one expects in a primary school art project!

The judging panel, formed of members of the IOE CI team, were hard put to it to come to a unanimous decision, but in the end awarded the 1st prize to Woodside Academy in Grays, Essex, who triumphed because of the wide variety of activities shown and the overall enthusiasm with which the whole school celebrated the Year of the Sheep. So congratulations to Mr Caines, the headteacher, Charlotte Barr and all the other staff and pupils who contributed. The school has a dynamic and inventive approach to MFL and is teaching both Spanish and Mandarin with an emphasis on giving the pupils an introduction to the excitement of global communication and understanding.

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Choosing the winner was indeed a difficult task, so honourable mention must also be made of Chelsea Hospital Community School, Anchorsholme Academy, Cubert Community Primary School, Little Bowden Primary School, Chestnuts Primary School (Milton Keynes) and Meadowdale Primary School.

On Tuesday 21st April, James Trapp, Primary Network Co-ordinator at the IOE CI, visited Woodside to present the school with their prize, which consisted of a certificate, some Chinese art equipment in the form of blank mounted scrolls and calligraphy brushes, and £100 to be spent on materials supporting their Mandarin teaching. The presentation was made during the morning assembly, after which James stayed on to run an object investigation workshop with some of the pupils studying Mandarin. The objects included an 18th c porcelain plate, a collapsible practice taiji sword, a traditional silk bound Chinese dictionary, a silk jacket, an inside-painted glass vase and Chinese currency, both old and new. The students worked in groups, without being given any information about their object, to find out for themselves as much as they could by handling and investigating the piece, and then told the rest of the class about their findings, with James filling in some detail. This always proves to be a fun and rewarding activity and the students from Woodside excelled themselves with their knowledge and detective skills!

If you would like some advice on creating an object box of your own, please contact James on

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