In October 2023, 132 students from five schools across England embarked on a school trip to China as part of the Mandarin Excellence Programme. 

Since its inception in 2016, the Mandarin Excellence Programme has empowered more than 11,000 young learners in England on the path to fluency in Mandarin Chinese.

Funded by the Department for Education and delivered by the IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society in partnership with the British Council, it gives pupils an unprecedented opportunity when it comes to language learning.

The trip marks a significant milestone as the first international school tour organised under the Mandarin Excellence Programme since 2019. 

Pupils ventured to Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an and Chengdu over the course of nine days engaging in an extensive programme with pupils in connected Chinese schools, all of which incorporated cultural exchange, friendship building and language learning at their core. 

Activities ranged from language learning, cultural lessons, from calligraphy to cooking, to sporting and arts activities, including martial arts and dancing.  Afternoons and evenings included excursions where students practised their Mandarin with Chinese people.