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Wednesday, 23 September 2015
A spectacular Lion Dance by the Jin Long Academy opened the official ceremony for the bestowing of Confucius Classroom status on Bolton School Junior Boys’ School. Almost 200 boys in Years 3 to 6 were joined by special guests Mr Wang Ying, Educational Consul of the Consulate General of The People’s Republic of China in Manchester and the Mayor of Bolton as well as representatives from the University of Manchester’s Confucius Institute and Governors and senior teachers of Bolton School.
Bolton School is one of very few primary schools in the North to be given Confucius Classroom status. Boys start learning about the Chinese language and culture from Year 3 through to Year 6. The Confucius status means the School will become a teaching hub for the community, allowing educators to share resources and build a community around Chinese learning in the region.
Philip Britton, Headmaster of Bolton School Boys’ Division said: “Modern Foreign languages are very strong in our senior school, including thriving Russian and German departments that buck the national trends. We knew that boys would do those very well later on in school so we felt able to be more adventurous with our Junior School curriculum.
Looking around the world the influence of China will be huge in the working lifetime of this generation of pupils and the links between China and the North West are already evident and strengthening so introducing Mandarin was a clear forward looking choice.
The programme has been a great success, not only in learning a language when the boys’ minds are receptive to tonal languages and learning but also understanding so much more about the culture through learning the language.
Opening a Confucius classroom is the next step and fits so well with our general approach as a school in sharing our expertise with local schools whenever we can.”
Mr Britton also reflected how the boys had also had fun learning Mandarin and how last Christmas they had added an extra verse in Mandarin to their singing of Silent Night, to accompany those they already knew in English, German and French.
Mr Wang Ying told the gathering that he was delighted to be invited to Bolton School and offered everyone his warmest congratulations on the achievement of Confucius Classroom status. He said there are approximately 100 Confucius classrooms in the UK and 26 Institutes and that the boys have also been learning about the wonderful Chinese culture and customs alongside the language.
Head of the Junior Boys’ School, Mrs Sue Faulkner, told how the School had decided three years ago to practise what it preaches by trying something new and introducing Mandarin into the curriculum. With its 60,000 characters and importance on tonality she felt the language represented both an opportunity and challenge for the boys. With 1 billion people speaking the language and China set to become the World’s largest economy she felt that the boys were being prepared for the future. She also offered thanks and respect to her colleague Mr Colin Hough, who has himself learnt the language in order to teach the boys alongside representatives from the Confucius Institute. Mrs Faulkner explained how the School hopes to act as a hub serving the local community, sharing ideas and resources to stimulate the teaching and learning of the Chinese language and culture throughout the area.
The ceremony also included a musical performance by Miss Xing Li and the singing of “wo de pengyou” - a counting song - by the pupils. The Mayor of Bolton, Councillor Carole Swarbrick, and Mr Wang Ying officially opened the classroom by revealing a plaque which will hang in the entranceway to the School. Guests then enjoyed a special lunch and tours of the School.
The event was televised on Look North-West Today and the lunchtime edition can be viewed here. The clip lasts from 2 minutes 22 seconds to 5 minutes.
Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, who is currently in China on a week-long trip to boost Chinese investment in the UK, today announced that Mandarin teaching in schools is set to get a £10m boost.
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