The government believes that learning other languages is important in our globalised economy, as well as helping pupils to prepare for life. As part of this aim, we are funding an intensive language programme which aims to see at least 5,000 young people on track towards fluency in Mandarin Chinese by 2020.
The programme started in 14 secondary schools in 2016, building to 76 schools in the current academic year, with around 5,000 pupils now studying Mandarin. The Mandarin Excellence Programme is intellectually enriching for students and gives them a significant advantage when they enter the world of work. Pupils on the programme study Mandarin for eight hours a week, at least four hours of which are teacher-taught classroom lessons – a significant increase on the time pupils usually spend on the subject.
More widely, the department has introduced the English Baccalaureate performance measure, which includes languages, and has seen the proportion of GCSE entries from pupils in state-funded schools in a modern foreign language increase from 40% in 2010 to 47% in 2019. The reformed national curriculum now makes it compulsory for pupils in maintained schools to be taught a foreign language in key stage 2.