Overview of our First Year

Welcome to the second edition of our Mandarin newsletter. Last year was our first year of teaching Mandarin Chinese across our trust and we would like to take this opportunity to share our many achievements. Our Swire Chinese Language Centre had a very busy and incredibly successful first year with all our Year 1, and a number of Year 2 students enjoying 30 minutes of Mandarin every week. The children have thoroughly enjoyed their Mandarin lessons and have made excellent progress; it is wonderful to hear them speaking Mandarin with such confidence! The Key Stage 2 students at The Stephen Longfellow Academy also loved learning about China and speaking Chinese in their weekly Mandarin sessions. Additionally, enrichment lessons at Elliott Hudson College were extremely well attended with a large number of students hoping to continue Mandarin Enrichment in Year 13.

In April, Edward Watson, the Executive Director of the Swire Chinese Language Foundation, visited a number of our schools across the trust. He spent the morning working with primary students at The Stephen Longfellow Academy and at Morley Newlands Academy before moving to Elliott Hudson College to see the fantastic work happening there. He was extremely impressed with the staff he met and the commitment all schools are making to the teaching of Mandarin. This led Edward to recommend other Swire Chinese Language Centres across the country visit our centre to learn about the excellent work we are doing with our students. As a result, we welcomed visitors from Manchester, Glasgow and Gosforth. They were very complimentary about our work and achievements.

During the summer term, five members of our team attended the Annual Swire Chinese Language Conference in Edinburgh. The Edinburgh Centre held a wonderful reception for all 12 Swire Chinese Language Centres from across the country at the National Museum of Scotland. This was then followed by a day of thought-provoking sessions on the themes of aspiration, achievement and sustainability in Mandarin teaching. Three members of the GORSE Mandarin team also participated in the UCL IOE Annual Chinese Teaching Conference in London. The conference was attended by over 400 people and sessions were led by Chinese education experts from as far as Australia. The Rt. Honourable Nick Gibb MP from the Department of Education also spoke on the first day of the conference about the importance of Mandarin teaching in today’s global context.

The GORSE Dragon Boat Festival

To celebrate the hard work and the wonderful achievements of all of our primary students across the trust, we held our first GORSE Dragon Boat Festival on Monday 8th July at The Morley Academy. The Dragon Boat Festival is one of the most important traditional festivals in China. To coincide with the children learning all about this in class, they took part in their very own dragon race. Each class designed and created their own dragon after investigating and considering Chinese traditions and authentic Chinese features. The results were breath takin!

The day started with a colourful parade of the dragons. Morpurgo Class (Richmond Hill Academy) were awarded the best dragon boat design by all of the other classes. During the race the participants gave their all and the atmosphere was amazing. Dahl Class (Richmond Hill Academy) won the race with Browne Class (Hillcrest Academy) coming in second and Handel Class (Morley Newlands Academy) in third. Well done to everyone who took part!

The rest of the day saw the children participating in a range of Chinese cultural activities. Everyone joined a Tai Chi session on the field and it was amazing to see all 360 pupils and staff concentrating so intensely and following the moves. After a delicious Chinese lunch, the pupils made traditional Chinese masks, practised calligraphy, wrote in Chinese characters, and learnt how to use chopsticks. Certificates were awarded for all the hard work and contributions made during the day. It was truly memorable and a lot of fun.

The day was such a success due to the support we received from a group of twenty-one Chinese students from the University of Leeds. The students kindly volunteered to assist in running the various events and really enjoyed working with the primary children. They were particularly impressed with the enthusiasm shown and loved practising Mandarin with them.

List of awards given

1. Dragon Boat Race 1st place 1 Dahl (Richmond Hill Academy)
2. Dragon boat 2nd place 2 Browne (Hillcrest Academy)
3. Dragon boat 3rd place 1 Handel (Morley Newlands Academy)
4. Best dragon boat design
(as voted for by the children)
1 Morpurgo (Richmond Hill Academy)
5. Most authentic dragon boat 1 Rowling (Richmond Hill Academy)
6. Most unique dragon boat design Honest Hawthorns (Ryecroft Academy)
7. Best teamwork Honest Hawthorns, Loyal Lapwings, Fair-Minded Firs (Ryecroft Academy)
8. Best chopstick users 1 Chopin (Morley Newlands Academy)
9. Best tai chi performers 1 Brahms (Morley Newlands Academy)
10. Best seaweed dancers 2 Jeffers (Hillcrest Academy)
11. Best singing group Honest Hawthorns, Loyal Lapwings, Fair-Minded Firs (Ryecroft Academy)
12. Best calligraphy group 1 Seuss (Hillcrest Academy)
13. Best mask making group 1 Donaldson (Hillcrest Academy)

Parental Engagement Events

During the summer term, we were also lucky enough to welcome parents into each primary school to experience a Mandarin lesson. Parents witnessed the children demonstrating their Mandarin and some were lucky enough to try traditional Chinese food and drink. The feedback was very positive with all parents being incredibly impressed with how much the children could already understand.

Some of the quotes from parents included:

“Great to see the children learning different languages and having fun with it!”

“What a brilliant thing for the children to be learning…”

“My son absolutely loves the class, the teacher is amazing!”

“The children love learning Mandarin. I’m very impressed with how much they know.”

Go Global Mandarin Club!

During the summer term, 24 students from the Year 10 GCSE French cohort at The Ruth Gorse Academy got the opportunity to take part in an exciting new extra-curricular club with students from the University of Leeds – the Go Global Mandarin and Chinese Culture Studies club!

Led by our five student ambassadors from the University of Leeds – James, Xin Ge, Ruixuan, Hongmin and Xin Zhao – the Ruth Gorse Academy students got the opportunity to learn all about Chinese culture and language, such as the signs of the zodiac and counting from 1 to 100! Although to begin with the students found it tricky to grasp the complex Mandarin pronunciation, they were determined to improve and spurred each other on to learn more through the fun and competitive language learning games and activities delivered by the student ambassadors.

Following the six-week programme, which included sessions on Chinese religion, customs, food and numbers, the students took part in a final celebration session where they got to try a number of different Chinese foods brought in by the student ambassadors. Needless to say, the ‘Stinky Tofu’ (chou doufu) was not the most popular item on the menu! The Go Global club was a fantastic opportunity for the students at The Ruth Gorse Academy to step out of their language learning comfort zone and appreciate the rich variation of different international languages and culture.  We would like to say thank you to the student ambassadors from the University of Leeds for facilitating this opportunity. We hope to run this club again with different year groups during this academic year.


This year already finds the Swire Chinese Language Centre here at The GORSE Academies Trust going from strength to strength. Excitingly, our Mandarin teaching team has expanded. We are delighted to welcome  Emma Jamen and Shiyin Wang to the Mandarin department. The expansion of the team has facilitated the move to Mandarin being taught in both year 1 and 2 in all primary schools in the trust, as well as in three new partner schools: Bramham Primary School; Shadwell Primary School and Primrose Lane Primary School. We are pleased to announce that we have successfully introduced a Pre-U Mandarin course at Elliott Hudson College (an equivalent qualification to A-Level). Our extra-curricular Mandarin provision has also expanded with Mandarin lunch and after-school clubs now being accessed across trust and in our partner schools. The Chinese team are currently planning some exciting Chinese related trips and events for later this academic year and we look forward to updating you on these in our next newsletter.