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School partnership offers new language to students in West Norfolk

Students in West Norfolk have started the new school year with an opportunity to study a brand new subject – Mandarin.

Thanks to a partnership between Iceni Academy in Methwold, Norwich School and the Swire Chinese Language Foundation, pupils now have the chance to learn the language.

Now schools across the Iceni Academy area are being invited to get involved and book in Mandarin sessions at the school.

Students from Iceni Academy Hockwold visit the Methwold site for a masterclass with Will (Yu) Liao

Stephen Plume, principal at Iceni Academy, said: “This is a very exciting opportunity for the young people of West Norfolk.

“Not only will they get all of the cultural enrichment that goes with a new language, they will also get the chance to study for a Chinese GCSE.”

The learning goes well beyond the classroom with trips to China planned for year 2, 4 and 6 of the project.

Peter Goddard, manager of the Swire Mandarin Centre in Norwich, said: “We hope that Iceni being part of the Norwich Swire Chinese Centre will bring a completely new dimension to the school and its feeder schools.

“Iceni is embarking on an exciting long-term project with us.”

The Swire Chinese Language Foundation is a private initiative funded by John Swire and Sons.

The aim of the foundation is to broaden the reach of Chinese teaching in the UK and improve its quality by developing a network of centres of excellence for teaching the language across the country.

Iceni Academy in Methwold is attached to the Norwich Centre of Excellence based at Norwich School.

Mr Plume added: “Although we are proud of our academic performance over the past four years, we are so much more than an exam factory.

“We hope that this exciting long-term project provides something interesting and unique for the students in West Norfolk.”

The news comes ahead of the academy’s “biggest open evening yet” in a couple of weeks, with the event coinciding with the 60th year since the school officially opened.

The open evening, on Wednesday, September 26 from 6pm, will have activities and open classrooms all over the academy.


Mr Plume said: “We are very proud of our history. We are celebrating the fourth year of our students achieving the best results in West Norfolk.

“It is also this year when we will see over £350,000 worth of building work taking place to improve the facilities for our students and community.”

In the weeks following the open evening, Mr Plume said there will be dates for parents and children to visit and tour the academy during normal school days.

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