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There are 12 Swire Chinese Language Centres currently teaching about 23,000 schoolchildren in 147 schools with increasing support from universities training up the teachers. Each centre is led by a secondary school and encompasses other secondary schools in addition to their respective feeder primary schools.

The prime beneficiaries of this Programme are state-funded schools, many of which are located in particularly deprived parts of the country. The Programme is also supported by a number of partnerships with independent schools.

Our hope is for the schools to succeed in embedding Mandarin Chinese in their curriculums and to become, by the end of the Programme in 2026, self-sufficient and able to continue to operate without the need for our funding. In the meantime our focus is on supporting centres to achieve these aims.



To see how we have established these centres, click on the sections below.

School selection criteria

We did not wish to be prescriptive as to what such centres looked like and how they operated, and accepted that there would be variation from centre to centre depending on local circumstances.  We were open to creative and innovative ideas.

However, we looked for as many of the following attributes as possible from the hosting schools:

  • Commitment and enthusiasm of the head and support from the governors
  • Capability of management to run the project
  • Suitable physical resources
  • Experience in outreach and of working with local schools
  • Ability to reach secondary, primary and possibly nursery pupils
  • Capability to make Chinese a core-curriculum subject
  • Provision of in-house and external training schemes for teachers
  • Willingness to offer placements for trainee teachers of Chinese, studying for PGCE or similar

If schools were interested, we asked these schools to submit a formal proposal to the trustees, outlining how they would best run a centre. In exceptional circumstances, the trustees were willing to consider proposals put forward on a school’s own initiative.

Proposal assessment

In assessing proposals, we considered issues such as:

  • How many pupils and schools and in which years, would be reached and in what time frame
  • Level of funding required
  • What plans were there to bring the subject into the schools’ curriculum
  • How and when would the centre be sustained without external funding
  • How would logistical and timetabling issues be addressed
  • Potential for the project to raise the aspirations of pupils from deprived backgrounds
  • Staffing requirements
  • How and from where would teachers be recruited
  • Approach to pedagogy
  • How would Chinese be taught from an introductory level through to A level in a continuum
  • What assessment process (in house and public) would be in place
  • How would technology be used to support teaching
  • What plans were there for teachers and pupils to visit China
  • Proposed measures of success and targets

The Foundation has supported the creation of centres for teaching Chinese, and now helps to support their running by funding costs such as teachers’ salaries and training, pupils’ trips to China, administration and technology. We expect the schools and universities involved in the centres to become self-sufficient and aim to support them up to that point.

David C Dempster - Head Teacher, Boroughmuir High School

“With our growing curricular provision and advanced plans for links with Shanghai schools, Mandarin will indeed be an integral part of our curricular and extra-curricular programme for a long time to come.”