Oundle pupils aiming to win the trip of a lifetime
31st January 2014


As Oundle School celebrated Chinese New Year with dragon dancing in the Cloisters, a group of six pupils, who are through to the national final of the British Council and HSBC’s Mandarin Chinese Speaking Competition are hoping to win a trip of a lifetime to Beijing.


The talented youngsters booked their place in the grand final at the British Museum which takes place on 3 February after impressing the judges with their language skills at one of three regional heats, held in London in December.


Jeremy Manger (15), Ben Joseph (16), Tom Charton-Jaeg (17), Magnus Jeffery (15), Myles Keane (16) and Jake Blackmore (16) will compete in the group performance category.


The nationwide competition aims to encourage greater interest in Chinese language and culture – which is vital to the UK’s future prosperity. China is forecast to become the largest economy in the world and learning Mandarin is becoming more and more important. On his recent visit to China Prime Minister David Cameron encouraged young people to look beyond traditional French and German lessons and take up Mandarin.


The competition is aimed at students who are non-native speakers, who have started learning Mandarin Chinese recently. The lucky winners from each category will visit China this Easter, where they will scale China's Great Wall, explore Beijing's Forbidden City, and enjoy cultural activities with Chinese students at local schools.


The British Council and HSBC have worked together to run the competition since 2003. The British Council builds relationships for the UK through English, Education and Culture, and already links around 43,000 pupils and teachers in the UK and China. HSBC invests in education programmes across the world. They focus on helping young people reach their potential through: access to education; promoting international and cultural understanding; and developing life-skills and entrepreneurship. Since 2000, HSBC has supported more than 1,000 UK schools host teachers from China to help children learn more about the language and Chinese culture.


Hua Yan, Head of Chinese in Oundle said, The competition has provided an exciting opportunity for pupils to learn Chinese through sketches. The participant pupils have really enjoyed performing a production in Chinese.”


Sir Martin Davidson, Chief Executive of the British Council and fluent Chinese speaker, said, “The UK’s future prosperity depends in no small part on our ability to communicate, interact and build relationships with people from around the world. China is a particularly important relationship for the UK. Familiarity with Chinese language and culture will become increasingly important for our prosperity, as David Cameron made clear during his recent visit to China when he pledged to double the number of Mandarin learners in the UK.”


Simon Martin, Head of Global Corporate Sustainability at HSBC said, "Our global research predicts that China will become the world’s largest economy by 2050. In addition, China makes up one-fifth of the global population, influences what we do and manufactures many items we use every day. Learning Mandarin Chinese and understanding Chinese culture is invaluable, giving young people a key global skill, which helps improve their career opportunities. The competition highlights the importance of cross-cultural understanding and gives young people from the UK an opportunity to develop and improve their Chinese language skills. We are delighted to continue supporting the competition and continue encouraging young people to learn about China.”


Every year, staff and pupils at Oundle School organise Chinese New Year celebrations.

On 31 January, pupils gathered in the School Cloisters for traditional Chinese dragon dancing to celebrate the start of the ‘Year of the Horse’. Amidst the excitement and anticipation they enjoyed their snacks whilst admiring the performance carried out by the School’s Dragon Dance team.


The School’s golden dragon is approximately 18 metres long, and 10 performers are required for the dance. It is rare to find a dragon lantern of this size in schools across England.


For more information about the competition, please contact Rowan Kennedy in the British Council Press Office on 0207 389 4994 or


Press contact:


Liz Dillarstone

Publicity and Press Relations Officer

Oundle School

01832 277267

07810 788458 



Notes to Editors:


About the British Council:


The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide.


We work in more than 100 countries and our 7000 staff – including 2000 teachers – work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year by teaching English, sharing the Arts and delivering education and society programmes.

We are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter. A core publically-funded grant provides less than 25 per cent of our turnover which last year was £781m. The rest of our revenues are earned from services which customers around the world pay for, through education and development contracts and from partnerships with public and private organisations. All our work is in pursuit of our charitable purpose and supports prosperity and security for the UK and globally.


For more information, please visit: You can also keep in touch with the British Council through and


About HSBC UK education programmes:


HSBC has been involved with education projects throughout its history. Education has grown to be the most significant focus of the Group’s community investment activities.


Globally, HSBC invests around US$50 million a year in education projects and thousands of HSBC employees get involved. In the UK, HSBC donates £14 million a year to education programmes, helping over 41,000 young people through 12 schemes including the British Council China Programme.


Together, we help young people fulfil their potential and realise their ambitions, by: providing access to education, developing life-skills and entrepreneurship, and promoting international and cultural understanding. Find out more at



Background Information on Oundle School


Oundle School is situated in the quintessentially English Market town from which it takes its name. The School's buildings, dating from the seventeenth to the twenty-first century, are dispersed throughout the town, which is, to a large extent, its campus.

The School's history goes back to 1556 when Sir William Laxton, Master of the Worshipful Company of Grocers and Lord Mayor of London, endowed and re-founded the original Oundle Grammar School, of which he was a former pupil. In 1876, the Grocers' Company decided to divide the School into two parts: Laxton Grammar School, mainly for the inhabitants of the town, and Oundle School, mainly for pupils from further afield. However, to mark the new millennium, the Governing Body decided to reunite the two schools under the common name of Oundle School, with Laxton as a House for day-pupils.

The School is now able to offer a range of educational possibilities to meet contemporary needs: co-educational day or boarding education, with Laxton Junior as a 4-11 day school, and Oundle School as a boarding and day school, with entry at 11, 13 or into the Sixth Form.

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