On Thursday 22nd October 2015 UCL Insitute of Education welcomed President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China and HRH The Duke of York to the Opening Ceremony of the UK Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms Annual Conference.
President Xi Jinping and HRH the Duke of York spoke at the ceremony after being welcomed by Professor Michael Arthur, UCL President & Provost, and Professor Chris Husbands, Director of the UCL Institute of Education.
In his address Professor Arthur highlighted the work of the Confucius Institute:
The merger with the Institute of Education has meant that UCL now houses the UCL IOE Confucius Institute, which is entirely in keeping with our global ethos and with the pressing need to support children in Britain’s schools in language learning. The work which is being undertaken by all the Confucius Institutes represented here today is a crucial part of British engagement in an inter-connected world.
Students from Robin Hood Academy, Birmingham sang in front of 200 delegates including vice-chancellors from UK universities, representatives from Confucius Institutes across the UK and Headteachers from China and Britain who work with the UCL IOE Confucius Institute to support Mandarin teaching and learning in schools.
Cameron Patterson, a student from Lancaster University read a poem in Chinese before a plaque celebrating Hautlieu School, Jersey as the 1000th Confucius Classroom was unveiled by the President of China.
The conferences continued at Senate House where attendees were treated to performances from Robin Hood Academy, Rosendale Primary School and Douglas Academy, as well as an impressive exhibition of posters designed by UK Confucius Classrooms and Institutes.
Katharine Carruthers hosted a discussion seminar focussed on specific issues around teaching and learning Chinese in schools, while other delegates opted to take a guided tour of Bloomsbury and an introduction to UCL led by Professor Guo Xiao.
Throughout the day hundreds more delegates gathered at UCL to meet with other Confucius Classroom teachers and hear from University Chancellors and Presidents including Zhu Shanlu, Chancellor of Peking University and Sir Keith Burnett, Vice-Chancellor, Sheffield University.
After a joint plenary and keynote speeches from all four nations and Madam Xu Lin, Director-General of Hanban and Chief Executive of Confucius Institute Headquarters, the attendees from Confucius Classrooms and Confucius Institutes then divided into separate conferences. Confucius Classrooms held breakout sessions on a range of topics from ‘Chinese teaching and assessments’ to ‘2016 Confucius Classrooms Development Plans’. Madam Xu Lin then closed their Conference by thanking everyone for all their hard work and continued determination.
The Confucius Institute Conference, divided into breakout sessions chaired by University Presidents and Vice Chancellors where strategy and programmes were discussed at length. The conference continued on Friday morning with sessions hosted by Confucius Institute Directors focusing on teacher training and the work plan for 2016. Madam Xu Lin closed the Confucius Institute Conference with a speech that reflected on the tremendeous successes and the innovative ideas of the previous two days.
Scholarships announced at Peking University
The conference also coincided with the announcement by Peking University (PKU) and the UCL Institute of Education (IOE) offering students of Mandarin from IOE Confucius Classrooms the chance to spend their gap year at the Chinese University.
Professor Chris Husbands, Director of the UCL Institute of Education said:
This is a life-changing opportunity for UK students and a real boost for Mandarin teaching and learning in the UK. Every Confucius Institute in the UK has a Chinese university partner and the IOE’s partner is Peking University and PKU High School. We collaborate closely with the School of Chinese as a Second Language at Peking University where our students would study whilst at PKU.
Li Yansong, Vice-President, PKU said:
We are very pleased to have students from UCL IOE Confucius Classrooms. We value the cooperation between Peking University and UCL IOE Confucius Institute. We hope that the opportunity for UK students to study at PKU further strengthens the link between our institutions. Generating success, we would expect the scale of the programme to grow over time.