Beckton primary school receives awards for language teaching

Ellen Wilkinson Primary School staff and pupils receive their awards. Picture: Angharad Carrick

Ellen Wilkinson Primary School staff and pupils receive their awards. Picture: Angharad Carrick - Credit: Archant

A Beckton primary school held an event to celebrate two awards for its commitment to teaching Mandarin.

Ellen Wilkinson Primary School headteacher Sue Ferguson said the school was "delighted" to receive the British Council's International School Award and the Confucius Classroom Award.

Cllr Sarah Jane Ruiz and Gaurav Randev, from the British Council's Connecting Classrooms project, presented the school with the International School Award for its ongoing commitment to global awareness.

The Tollgate Road school has links to eastern Europe and recently hosted a group of students from Nigeria. Sue said: "We wanted to move away from tokenistic things and try and build it into our curriculum."

Professor Paul Ivey, deputy vice chancellor of South Bank University, and Professor Yinong Xu, director of Confucius Institute for Traditional Chinese Medicine, presented Ellen Wilkinson with the Confucius Classroom Award for its near four-year dedication to teaching Mandarin.

Sue explained that with nearly 40 languages being spoken among the student body, picking a language with very little structural similarity to English helped to level the playing field.

Professor Xu nominated the school for the award and said it is "devoted to the programme".

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He added: "They make every effort not just in language teaching, but in a range of activities from performances to workshops about culture."

Sue stressed that teaching Mandarin was as much about embracing the culture as learning the language, saying: "We want our children to be tolerant and respectful."

This was evident during Friday's award ceremony with the children captivated by performers from London South Bank University.

Mandarin is a growth language and the potential employability element of learning the language from a young age is not lost on the school.

Sue said it is about aspiration: "The world shouldn't have limits and these awards symbolise this."

Cllr Julianne Marriott, cabinet member for ducation, told pupils at Ellen Wilkinson: "Whatever you do, remember this school is a fantastic place to be."