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Languages: Mandarin

Volume 461: debated on Monday 11 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) pursuant to his answer of 24 May 2007, Official Report, column 1390W, on Mandarin if he will take steps to encourage schools to offer Mandarin as a subject at all levels; and what steps he is taking to increase the pool of teachers qualified to teach Mandarin; (141444)

(2) what discussions he has had with Ministerial colleagues on the teaching of Mandarin and its potential impact on the preparedness of the UK workforce for dealing with China;

(3) what steps his Department is taking to promote Mandarin to young people as an academic subject.

I refer the hon. Member to my written reply of 14 May. We have now received the Qualification and Curriculum Authority’s advice on the revised Key Stage 3 languages curriculum. We are considering that advice and will be responding shortly. Schools are already free to teach any language they choose at Key Stage 2.

We are working with partners, including the China National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language (Hanban), on a range of initiatives to promote the teaching of Mandarin at all levels, including high profile events such as the HSBC China Conference, and arranging for secondary school pupils from the UK to attend summer schools in China. The Training and Development Agency for schools is working with initial teacher training providers to develop their ability to offer more places for major world languages such as Mandarin within their PGCE programmes.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has had no recent discussions with Ministerial colleagues about the teaching of Mandarin and its impact for the UK workforce.