UK schools are to import Mandarin teachers from China to assistant Mandarin-teaching in state schools. The Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT), an educational charity, which represents 90 per cent of England’s 2,950 state secondary schools, has signed an agreement with China’s Office of Chinese Language Council International (also known as Han Ban 汉办).

Under this scheme, schools will host two Chinese teaching assistants each, who will work in several schools. The teachers, funded and paid for by the schools and Han Ban, will be expected to stay for up to two years.

Sir Cyril Taylor, chairman of the SSAT, said it should be seen as the key language for future generations to learn - replacing European languages.

He told Parliament Education and Skills Committee: “I want all language colleges to be teaching Mandarin. It is a strategic world language. The difficulty in the past has been getting Chinese teachers. However, exchanges between our schools and Chinese schools will help to change that. We learn from them and they learn from us.”

According to The Times newspaper, about 60 Chinese Language Assistants were placed in English schools last year under this scheme. The number rises to 80 this year, and is expected to reach 100 by 2008.

The Times’s report: 100 teachers imported from China

The Independent’s report: Schools import China’s teachers for lessons in ‘language of tomorrow’.