School pupil in England learns Mandarin Chinese  ©

Philip Meech Photography

The Mandarin Excellence Programme is a new intensive language programme, funded by the Department for Education, which will see at least 5,000 school pupils in England on track to fluency in Mandarin Chinese by 2020.

Delivered by the UCL Institute of Education in partnership with the British Council, the nationwide programme will offer students an unprecedented opportunity in terms of language provision.

In being the most widely spoken language in the world, Mandarin Chinese is recognised as one of the most important languages for the UK’s future. The programme therefore provides a fantastic opportunity for students to acquire vital language skills at an early stage – something essential for work and for life in an increasingly connected world.

Students on the programme will study eight hours of Mandarin Chinese every week – including four hours of classroom taught lessons – with selected groups of pupils beginning from Year 7.

The programme is open to all secondary schools, but funding to support development is only available for state-funded secondary schools.

More information and an application form for schools interested in participating in the programme can be found here: