Mandarin Chinese teaching at Harrogate Grammar School Confucius Classroom continues to thrive

Students at our Confucius Classroom are achieving success in exams and competitions and enjoy an established programme of cultural events each year.  

Under the guidance of Chinese teacher Richard Barnard and Modern Foreign Languages Faculty Leader Adrian Stipetic interest in Mandarin Chinese at Harrogate Grammar School continues to rise and provision is growing.  

Students first get the chance to study Mandarin Chinese from Year 8 and there are classes for every year group up to Year 13. This ensures that the full ability range is catered for, from complete beginners to those aiming for Chinese Proficiency exams in the older groups.

Mr Stipetic says:

In Richard Barnard, we couldn’t ask for a more enthusiastic teacher, who is committed to driving us forwards and succeeding in making sure that students don’t just do well, but also are enjoying their learning.


The Chinese Proficiency Exams offered by Hanban have been embraced by Harrogate Grammar School as a way to motivate students and measure progress.  

The Youth Chinese Test (YCT) has become part of the plan for younger learners as they progress through their studies. Older and more advanced students are able to take the appropriate level of the HSK Chinese Proficiency Exam.  

While supporting students to sit GCSE Mandarin is a long-term goal of many schools where Chinese is taught, this is a challenging objective to achieve. The YCT and HSK provide a range of exams at different levels which allow students to demonstrate their progress and get used to taking exams in Mandarin.  

After establishing YCT and HSK exams at the school, this is the first academic year in which non-native Chinese students will attempt a GCSE in Mandarin Chinese. From learning their first words and characters in after-school clubs these dedicated students are now preparing to sit the exam in summer next year.  


In addition to developing Mandarin language teaching the school aims to impress with their cultural events.  

The annual Chinese New Year event has become a highlight in the calendar and attracts an audience of over 200 students, parents, teachers and guests for an evening of Chinese-themed performances, games and food.  

The annual extra-curricular China Day is now well-established. The event in October this year saw 450 students participating in a day of China-themed activities, with 18 different sessions going on at one time. These included Chinese calligraphy and Chinese traditional painting delivered by Business Confucius Institute teachers.  

Other sessions included mask making, cooking, music, game-design, and Wing Chun Kung Fu.  

Working with other schools

This year Co-op Academy Leeds initiated a Mandarin Spelling Bee competition which saw students from Co-op Academy Leeds and Harrogate Grammar School go head-to-head.  

The trophy currently sits in our Confucius Classroom, won by Harrogate Grammar student Richard Wilkins.

Hopefully next year the competition will expand to include other schools keen to motivate their students through fun and friendly competition with others.  

When looking back at the past year, Mr Stipetic commented: 

We’re delighted with the progress, profile and development of Chinese here. We’re extremely grateful to the Business Confucius Institute for their ongoing support and we look forward to the future projects and challenges!