The Gregg School

Oundle pupils aiming to win the trip of a lifetime

Published on isbi School News dated Monday 3rd of February 2014

As Oundle School celebrated Chinese New Year with dragon dancing in the Cloisters, a group of six pupils, who are through to the national final of the British Council and HSBC's Mandarin Chinese Speaking Competition are hoping to win a trip of a lifetime to Beijing.

The talented youngsters booked their place in the grand final at the British Museum which takes place on 3 February after impressing the judges with their language skills at one of three regional heats, held in London in December.

Jeremy Manger (15), Ben Joseph (16), Tom Charton-Jaeg (17), Magnus Jeffery (15), Myles Keane (16) and Jake Blackmore (16) will compete in the group performance category.

The nationwide competition aims to encourage greater interest in Chinese language and culture which is vital to the UK's future prosperity. China is forecast to become the largest economy in the world and learning Mandarin is becoming more and more important. On his recent visit to China Prime Minister David Cameron encouraged young people to look beyond traditional French and German lessons and take up Mandarin.

The competition is aimed at students who are non-native speakers, who have started learning Mandarin Chinese recently. The lucky winners from each category will visit China this Easter, where they will scale China's Great Wall, explore Beijing's Forbidden City, and enjoy cultural activities with Chinese students at local schools.

The British Council and HSBC have worked together to run the competition since 2003. The British Council builds relationships for the UK through English, Education and Culture, and already links around 43,000 pupils and teachers in the UK and China. HSBC invests in education programmes across the world. They focus on helping young people reach their potential through: access to education; promoting international and cultural understanding; and developing life-skills and entrepreneurship. Since 2000, HSBC has supported more than 1,000 UK schools host teachers from China to help children learn more about the language and Chinese culture.

Hua Yan, Head of Chinese in Oundle said, 'The competition has provided an exciting opportunity for pupils to learn Chinese through sketches. The participant pupils have really enjoyed performing a production in Chinese.'

Sir Martin Davidson, Chief Executive of the British Council and fluent Chinese speaker, said, 'The UK's future prosperity depends in no small part on our ability to communicate, interact and build relationships with people from around the world. China is a particularly important relationship for the UK. Familiarity with Chinese language and culture will become increasingly important for our prosperity, as David Cameron made clear during his recent visit to China when he pledged to double the number of Mandarin learners in the UK.'

Simon Martin, Head of Global Corporate Sustainability at HSBC said, "Our global research predicts that China will become the world's largest economy by 2050. In addition, China makes up one-fifth of the global population, influences what we do and manufactures many items we use every day. Learning Mandarin Chinese and understanding Chinese culture is invaluable, giving young people a key global skill, which helps improve their career opportunities. The competition highlights the importance of cross-cultural understanding and gives young people from the UK an opportunity to develop and improve their Chinese language skills. We are delighted to continue supporting the competition and continue encouraging young people to learn about China.'

Every year, staff and pupils at Oundle School organise Chinese New Year celebrations.
On 31 January, pupils gathered in the School Cloisters for traditional Chinese dragon dancing to celebrate the start of the 'Year of the Horse'. Amidst the excitement and anticipation they enjoyed their snacks whilst admiring the performance carried out by the School's Dragon Dance team.

The School's golden dragon is approximately 18 metres long, and 10 performers are required for the dance. It is rare to find a dragon lantern of this size in schools across England.

For more information about the competition, please contact Rowan Kennedy in the British Council Press Office on 0207 389 4994 or
Oundle pupils aiming to win the trip of a lifetime - Photo 1Oundle pupils aiming to win the trip of a lifetime - Photo 2
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