International Trip to Beijing
6th February 2015

Two Oundle school pupils, Ed Willey (18) and Egan Pashley (16) travelled to Beijing over the Christmas break to take part in a camp for international students from 12 countries. The group of pupils from the UK numbered six in all, with Oundle's Head of Chinese, Mr Hua Yan, leading the group as head chaperone.


The camp was offered to pupils across the world who had taken Chinese government sponsored Chinese Language proficiency tests over the past years, known more commonly as the 'HSK'. The trip included a course of Chinese lessons, cultural activities, lectures, sports, and numerous visits to the many fascinating historical locations around Beijing.

Ed commented, “This was my fourth trip to China and I wished to use the opportunity to practice and improve my spoken Chinese. I have been offered a place to study Chinese at Cambridge after I leave Oundle in the summer, and believe that the practice I have enjoyed on trips like this has improved my language skills.


With a language as alien to English as Chinese, the only way to really get experience on a day-to-day level is by going to the country, and in this sense the trip was a great success. I very much enjoyed both the lessons and trips out, with a particular highlight for me being the chance to ice skate on the frozen lake at the Summer Palace. It was also very interesting to meet people from several different cultures and backgrounds on the camp - I think my Spanish has improved almost as much as my Chinese!"


Oundle School is delighted to have been recognised as a ‘Confucius Classroom’ by Hanban, the Office of Chinese Language Council International which is a public institution affiliated with the Chinese Ministry for Education. The status is awarded by Hanban to schools outside of China that are good enough and ambitious enough in Chinese teaching and learning.


Hanban/Confucius Institute Headquarters is committed to providing Chinese language and cultural teaching resources and services worldwide, meeting the demands of foreign Chinese learners and contributing to the development of multiculturalism. IOE (Institute of Education) ‘Confucius Classrooms’ are mainstream schools across England that both have Chinese firmly embedded in their own curriculum and can give advice, support and taster classes to other schools in their region that are looking to start offering Chinese.

There are currently 37 IOE ‘Confucius Classrooms’ in a variety of different English schools (both state-maintained and independent) which teach pupils of all ages, from infant, age 4 through to sixth form college, age 18).

Oundle has offered Mandarin teaching since 1995 and was one of the first of very few schools to do so. It started as an extra-curricular option and has developed into a popular timetabled option to GCSE and Pre-U level. This year, 20 pupils took GCSE Chinese, with 16 gaining an A* grade and 4 an A grade. At Pre U level, 4 pupils gained an A grade and one pupil gained a B grade.


The approval process involved submission of an application to Hanban via the IOE Confucius Institute in London. This came about after the visit of Mr Shen Yang, Minister Counsellor for Education of the Chinese Embassy, to Oundle School in March 2014, when he remarked that the School was a ‘hidden treasure’, and recommended that the School should apply to be recognised as a ‘Confucius Classroom’.


Oundle will benefit from visits from experienced Chinese teachers from China each year, and free teaching resources in exchange for promoting Chinese teaching in the region - giving advice, support and taster classes to other schools in in East Anglia that are looking to start offering Chinese. Hanban teacher, Shunyong is expected to arrive at Oundle in late October.


Background information on Oundle’s Adamson Centre for Modern Languages

The opening of Oundle School’s Adamson Centre in 2013 marked a new and exciting phase for the Modern Languages Department and is the latest completed project in Oundle’s comprehensive and ongoing development plan. A stunning blend of traditional architecture and contemporary glass features, the Adamson Centre, formerly the Sir Peter Scott Building, has been redesigned specifically with the teaching of foreign languages in mind. In addition to welcoming over 900 pupils a week, the Centre will also provide a hub of excellence within the wider community of teaching, with staff hosting conferences and lectures to promote the development of languages.


The Modern Foreign Languages Department is one of the largest in the School, with seven languages being timetabled: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish. More pupils than ever are learning two or more languages, with many more taking advantage of the breadth of clubs, societies and lectures on offer outside the curriculum. A Level and Pre-U results continue to rise; last summer saw pupils gain 45 A* and A grades at A2, with 20 Oundelians going on to read one or more languages at university.


The building is named after major benefactor and former pupil David Frederic Dobell Adamson who left the School in 1937. He requested that “this bequest be used to improve facilities for and give opportunities to students to learn to speak and communicate in foreign languages.”


The Adamson Centre facilities include:

·         14 Teaching Rooms: Each classroom focuses on a single language and culture and is equipped with high quality audio speakers, an interactive whiteboard and projector.

·         2 Sony Language Laboratories: Two dedicated PC suites combine all the features of a traditional laboratory with the latest multimedia technology, including Sony Virtuoso language software.

·         6 Language Assistant Pods: Fully equipped with touch screen computers, these modern glass fronted rooms are designated specifically for conversation classes and oral examinations.

·         The Raymond Lee International Suite: The centre-piece and ‘hub’ of the Department, this Suite provides a perfect venue for language conferences, films, lectures from visiting speakers and competitions. It is equipped with the latest Skype technology, blu-ray cinema system, projector and blackout blinds.



Background Information on Oundle School

Oundle School is situated in the quintessentially English market town of Oundle, about 90 miles north of London. The School’s buildings, dating from the 17th to the 21st centuries, are dispersed throughout the town, which is, to a large extent, its campus.


The School’s history dates 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 Grocer’s Company divided the School into two parts; Laxton Grammar School, primarily for the inhabitants of the town, and Oundle School, primarily for pupils from further afield. In 2000, the Grocers’ Company reunited the two schools under the common name of Oundle School and retained the name of Laxton for the day House.


At the beginning of the 20th century, Oundle was put firmly on the map of leading English public schools by its most famous headmaster, F W Sanderson, who established Oundle’s reputation as one of the great science and engineering schools, a reputation still renowned today. In 2007, SciTec - a major and ground-breaking new science complex - opened, housing 16 state-of-the-art laboratories. The School is now embarking on a large SciTec Campus development project which will see a new Mathematics department constructed adjacent to SciTec as well as a significant upgrade to the Design and Technology department within the Patrick Engineering Centre. Due for completion in September 2016, the development will unite Science, Mathematics, Design, Technology and Engineering both physically and philosophically, enabling pupils to move seamlessly from theory to practice and from pure science to the achievement of a workable technology. A concurrent Sports Masterplan will upgrade sporting facilities across the School over the next few years, including a new 1st XI cricket pavilion due to open April 2015. 


There are currently 1110 pupils on roll at Oundle School, with 850 boarders and 250 day pupils. Also within the Corporation of Oundle School is Laxton Junior School, a day School for children aged 4 to 11. 

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