Chris Ansell, Mandarin Language Lead at the LEO Academy Trust, reflects on a ‘truly immersive experience’ in the latest edition of ‘The Headteacher’ magazine.

Pupils at LEO Academy Trust were amongst the hundreds of primary and secondary students who were immersed in Chinese culture during a week of online immersion.

True Education Partnerships have supported LEO Academy Trust with their international links and global learning opportunities since 2018, as part of the Sister School Partnerships programme.

Whilst international travel remains difficult, the Multi-Academy Trust continued to prioritise its ambition for all pupils to have “a cultural capital-building experience beyond compare to become active global citizens.”

In the latest edition of ‘The Headteacher’ magazine, Chris Ansell, Language Lead at LEO Academy Trust, shares how their participation in the China Online Immersion programme reignited and flourished student learning.

“If you are looking to reignite your pupil’s passion for a language and engage them with the wider context, a virtual week away is a fantastic opportunity.

“Pupils enjoyed a series of amazing activities designed to practice and improve their language skills and develop their knowledge of China’s history, culture and identity.

“The materials provided were excellent, offering detailed information booklets, follow-up activities that pupils could complete at home and scripts for teachers to navigate each session.

Chris Ansell explains how the virtual visit to their Sister School visit was a particular highlight of the trip.

“We also had the chance to tour our sister school in Chengdu and speak with the pupils there. For me, this was the most valuable part of the week. It gave our pupils the autonomy to lead their learning, connect with pupils their age and use their language skills to ask questions that genuinely interested them, from learning about the Chinese school day to what pets they had and which football team they supported. I recommend to any school planning something similar to create as many opportunities as possible for pupils to speak with their counterparts.

“We are looking forward to seeing the long-term impact. However, one thing I can say is the immersive experience was fantastic for reigniting our pupils’ love for learning and Mandarin. After many months in and out of lockdowns, the effect of siloed learning was taking its toll, so to be able to step away from the screens and have a fully immersive experience and a buzzing classroom full of pupils excited to be together and learn together was priceless. After all, learning is better together.”

LEO Academy Trust set up a Mandarin Club for KS2 pupils in 2018, following an Ofsted inspection that found a “lack of depth in the curriculum.” Mandarin was the language chosen to give pupils the chance to “understand a different culture” and “progress into the world of further education and work.”

Since then, Year 4 and 5 pupils have been learning Mandarin on a regular basis and continue to explore the country’s exciting culture.

November 2021: Limited places available

Spaces are available but limited on the next China Online Immersion programme, running between 8th and 12th November 2021.

The China Online Immersion programme has been designed to enrich and stimulate student learning with interactive sessions, workshops, virtual tours of Chengdu and ‘live’ peer interaction in China.

Schools can choose to participate for 2-5 days for a class of up to 30 pupils, or multiple classes if you prefer. Our authentic resource boxes perfectly combine online and offline learning to provide all you need to create the cultural artefacts as demonstrated during the sessions.

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