Osborne’s £10m Mandarin teaching better invested elsewhere, O’Hagan says

Carmel O’Hagan, the former head of languages at CILT The National Centre for Languages, has criticised Chancellor George Osborne’s £10 million investment in expanding the teaching of Mandarin, claiming it could have been better invested in language assistants.

Osborne announced the move back in September, during a trip to China and maintained the funding would help enable 5,000 more pupils to study the language by 2020. So far, twenty schools have been recruited to begin the Mandarin excellence programme in September, to be run by the UCL Institute of Education Confucius Institute.

However, O’Hagan has outlined that budget cuts have resulted in language assistants who were ‘very useful’ for supporting young people in learning languages, being dropped. She also highlighted the online technologies would be a cheaper option, with conventional Mandarin language courses costing around £200.

UCAS figures have revealed that 20 people in England have conditional offer to start a Mandarin initial teacher training course in September, out of 150 applications. The number is less than half the amount of people who started in September 2015.

Commenting on the investment, Leora Cruddas, director of policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, argued: “We welcome the Mandarin programme because it is an investment in education and in a modern foreign language.

“We are pleased that schools are signing up to the programme and would be happy to publicise it to our members if the organisers feel this would be helpful.”

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