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The Foundation

The Swire Chinese Language Foundation is a private initiative funded by John Swire and Sons. The initiative aims to improve the quality, quantity and reach of Chinese language teaching in the UK. Working with selected schools and universities across the country, the Foundation helps create centres of excellence for teaching school children of all ages and training of teachers.
Swire Chinese Language Foundation John Swire

John Swire

Swire Chinese Language Foundation Chinese flags


The Foundation was set up to mark the 200th anniversary and 150 years of the Swire Group’s business in Greater China, where they now carry out most of their business. The Swire Group is based in London and has been in business for over two centuries and for more than half that time has supported education around the world.

John Swire and Sons has committed to funding the Foundation for ten years. So, we can take a long-term view and have time to ensure that our schools bring the subject into their core curriculum, make it a success with their pupils and no longer depend on our funding. Ultimately, we expect to become a catalyst for other schools to follow suit.

Our team

We work on the basis that the schools we select to work with are the best people to design and deliver local models for expanding the teaching of Chinese. We therefore limit ourselves to selecting, funding and observing those schools, leaving them with as flexible remit as possible. This also enables us to run the Foundation with a lean team.
  • Sam Swire

    Sam Swire

  • Professor Jane Duckett

    Professor Jane Duckett

  • Dr Christian Toennesen

    Dr Christian Toennesen

  • Teddy Watson

    Teddy Watson

  • Alexa Sale

    Alexa Sale

Our philosophy

Relations between Britain and China are more important than ever, so this is an exciting time to engage with Chinese language and culture.

We hope to achieve our goals with the following ethos:


We believe that high standards of teaching will encourage greater participation and, when combined with high-quality modern technology, will make Mandarin easier to pick up and progress with.


We hope that by encouraging Chinese to become a core subject in school curricula it will remove barriers to learning and be viewed as a subject that can be taken on by students from all backgrounds and of all learning capabilities.


We hope that the foundation will be a vehicle for raising aspirations and opening opportunities in many deprived parts of our country.

UK Swire Trusts and Foundations

The Swire Chinese Language Foundation is part of several Swire philanthropic initiatives. These include the Swire Charitable Trust, Swire Family Charitable Trusts and Swire Scholarships Programme.