Highgate Primary School pulls out all stops to embrace Chinese culture

Mandarin workshop at Highgate Primary School

Mandarin workshop at Highgate Primary School - Credit: Archant

A Highgate school which prides itself on being a pioneer in teaching Mandarin is pulling out all the stops to embrace Chinese culture.

Highgate Primary School headteacher William Dean taming lions during the Chinese roadshow.

Highgate Primary School headteacher William Dean taming lions during the Chinese roadshow. - Credit: Archant

Staff and students at Highgate Primary School were treated to their third annual Chinese New Year roadshow earlier this month after a visit from London Southbank University’s Confucius Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Students also spent time celebrating the Chinese New Year of the Rooster by making dumplings, fashioning roosters out of egg boxes, as well as creating lucky dragons, lanterns and non-explosive firecrackers.

The day saw headteacher William Dean taming two enormous ‘lions’, staff forming a human bridge for martial arts experts to perform over and several ballet and musical demonstrations.

Children from nursery through to Year 6 are taught Mandarin and Highgate is one of a handful of primary schools to be awarded the Confucius Classroom status after being recognised as a centre of excellence for the teaching of Chinese cultural studies.

A demonstration of Chinese ballet at Highgate Primary School.

A demonstration of Chinese ballet at Highgate Primary School. - Credit: Archant

Earlier this year the school bagged first prize in a challenge set by the Chinese Embassy to come up with a short performance film on the theme of mythological figure, the Monkey King.

The school also runs a Chinese calligraphy club, Kung Fu and a Mandarin class for parents.

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Rhoda Pennington, who is Mandarin teacher and Confucius classroom manager at the Storey Road school, said: “This year’s roadshow seemed even more spectacular than ever. Not only is it hugely inspiring for the children and staff, it’s a wonderful opportunity to learn more about Chinese culture.”

Another school hoping to expand its cultural horizons by allowing students to sit GCSE and A-level exams in Mandarin Chinese in the near future is The Urswick School in Hackney.

Headteacher Richard Brown said: “We have recently introduced the teaching of Mandarin Chinese to a group of our most able students, who also have the chance to study either Spanish or French.

“The Chinese economy is expanding rapidly and only a small number of non-Chinese children in English schools are being taught Mandarin.

“The ability to speak Mandarin will be a great asset to our children in the future.

“They are also learning to speak and write in a language that is so different to ours.”

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