Watch the recording of our webinar from 4 October 2023 to explore the impact of the Mandarin Excellence Programme.

About the Mandarin Excellence Programme

The Mandarin Excellence Programme (MEP) is a unique intensive language programme that started in 2016. The MEP has resulted in thousands of English students taking up Mandarin and gaining a high level of fluency. The programme is delivered by the IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society on behalf of the Department for Education (DfE) and in partnership with the British Council. 

About the webinar

This webinar will share the results of the latest evaluation of the Mandarin Excellence Programme and include reflections on how the impressive results in attainment have been achieved:

  • MEP is meeting its primary goal of increasing the number of children on the path to fluency with more than 7,300 pupils in the programme in academic year 2021-2022.
  • MEP pupils have significantly higher GCSE Chinese attainment than their non-MEP peers
  • Participation in MEP itself – allowing for all other factors – has a positive and statistically significant impact on attainment.

Speakers will include representatives from the independent evaluator, the Department for Education, IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society and the British Council.

About the panel

Leilah Tott

Assistant Director for the Curriculum Division at the Department for Education with a lead on EBacc, languages and RE policy. Leilah has previously worked as the Head of Maths, Science and Computing policy, as well as for a number of different departments including the Cabinet Office and the Behavioural Insights Unit. Before becoming a civil servant, Leilah worked as primary school teacher as Head of Year 6 and English co-ordinator.

Katharine Carruthers

Katharine Carruthers is the Strategic Director of the Mandarin Excellence Programme. She also plays a leading role in supporting the development of Mandarin Chinese on the mainstream curriculum in secondary schools across England.

Katharine is an experienced teacher and examiner of Chinese. She is the series editor of the textbooks for teaching Chinese for 11-16 year olds, and wrote the specification for Cambridge Pre-U Mandarin Chinese. Over the last decade, she led the development of the IOE’s PGCE Mandarin pathway, working with a cohort of approximately 20 PGCE students annually training to teach Mandarin Chinese. 

Her research interests are around the teaching and learning of Chinese as a foreign language in schools, the notion of intercultural competence in Chinese and UK schools and globalisation and language policy.

Katharine Carruthers is UCL’s Global Strategic Academic Advisor (China).

Kieron Culligan

Director of insight and evaluation consultancy at Impact Stories. Impact Stories works in education, culture and social change. It aims to collate, illuminate and interpret information to provide actionable insights and learning for organisations and programmes in the UK and internationally.

Impact Stories is the new brand identity bringing together the planning and evaluation expertise of In2Impact with the research and analysis capabilities of Research Stories. 

Kieron has led insight and evaluation projects for organisations including the British Council, the Independent Schools Council, Sommet Education, Arts Council England, the National Lottery Heritage Fund and many individual universities and schools internationally.

Kieron was previously Research Director at Ipsos MORI and EMEA Insight Manager at HP. He has degrees from Oxford University and Manchester University.


Independent evaluation report

The Mandarin Excellence Programme independent evaluation report has been published and is now publicly available. This report builds on a summative evaluation of the first five years of the programme (2016-2021).  

Click here to view the report.