Thursday 19 February 2015


Children across the UK have been marking Chinese New Year with the help of a free learning resource sent to every primary school in the country during January and February.

Produced by the British Council and supported by HSBC, the ‘Year of the Sheep’ education pack introduces pupils to the differences and similarities between the lives of people in China and the UK while aiming to help children learn more about Chinese language and culture.

As we enter the Year of the Sheep today (19 February), the new resource contains classroom activities from creating shadow puppets - one of the most popular and widespread folk arts in China - to counting and playground games, as well as teaching resources, assembly and lesson plans.

Commenting on the pack, Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive of the British Council, said: “It is designed to support young people’s education about the world and to help them gain an understanding of other countries and cultures in preparation for life as global citizens. Familiarity with China and Chinese will become increasingly important for the prosperity of the UK.  These materials, produced with input from the Institute of Education Confucius Institute for Schools, will help introduce primary aged children to some of the differences and similarities between the lives, languages and cultures of the people of China and the UK.

“We are grateful to HSBC for supporting the pack this year.  HSBC has worked extensively with the British Council and others for over 10 years to support the teaching of Chinese language and culture in UK schools, for example helping to fund Chinese Language Assistants and the annual Mandarin Speaking Competition.”

Lorraine Thomas, Senior Manager Global Education and UK Community Investment at HSBC said: “The pack provides a creative and engaging way of sharing information about China and Chinese culture, which we hope will spark the interest and imagination of young people.”

The pack has been prepared with input from the IOE Confucius Institute for Schools and is supported by HSBC. A hard copy of the pack has been sent to all primary schools for the attention of the Headteacher. It is also available online here:

Notes to Editor

For more information, please contact Kristen McNicoll in the British Council Press Office on 020 7389 4967 or

· The British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide.

We work in more than 100 countries and our 8,000 staff – including 2,000 teachers – work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year by teaching English, sharing the arts and delivering education and society programmes.

We are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter. A core publicly-funded grant provides 20 per cent of our turnover which last year was £864 million. The rest of our revenues are earned from services which customers around the world pay for, such as English classes and taking UK examinations, and also through education and development contracts and from partnerships with public and private organisations. All our work is in pursuit of our charitable purpose and supports prosperity and security for the UK and globally.

For more information, please visit: You can also keep in touch with the British Council through and

· HSBC Bank plc

HSBC serves 16.1 million customers in the UK and employs approximately 43,500 people.  In the UK, HSBC offers a complete range of personal, premier and private banking services including bank accounts and mortgages. It also provides commercial banking for small to medium businesses and corporate and institutional banking services. HSBC Bank plc is a wholly owned subsidiary of HSBC Holdings plc.          

· The HSBC Group

HSBC Holdings plc, the parent company of the HSBC Group, is headquartered in London. The Group serves customers worldwide from over 6,200 offices in over 74 countries and territories in Asia, Europe, North and Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa. With assets of US$2,729bn at 30 September 2014, HSBC is one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organisations.

· HSBC Global Education Programme

At HSBC, we believe that education is key to prosperity. Education is the most significant focus of the Group’s community investment programme, Globally we invest US$50 million a year in education projects and thousands of HSBC employees get involved. Together, we help young people fulfil their potential by: providing access to education, developing life-skills and entrepreneurship, and promoting international and cultural understanding.