SCEN Update December 2020

01 December 2020

Dear All,


Feedback from teachers of Mandarin across Scotland shows that, despite the pandemic, quality learning and teaching of Mandarin continue with a high level of success in those schools where the language is being taught. This is due to the innovation, hard work, and commitment of teachers and students throughout the lockdown, and in the period since August when schools returned in far from normal circumstances. Teachers of Mandarin are also supported by quality professional development opportunities and new materials; many developed by teachers of Mandarin themselves, members of the SCEN network. In addition, opportunities are becoming available to students in schools where Mandarin has not traditionally been taught, especially through E-sgoil, a platform developed by the Confucius Institute for Scotland’s Schools (CISS). We are pleases to hear it is reaching more and more young people, mostly outwith the central belt of Scotland.
These are challenging times, so SCEN congratulates all teachers and young people for their continuing hard work and commitment to learning and teaching across all subjects, including Mandarin, where and when it is available.


There is hope that, beyond the spring of 2021, assuming the plans for mass anti-Covid vaccination are delivered, that some sort of normality will be resumed in schools. This must be a time for consolidation of Mandarin learning and teaching in those schools where it is established. It is also a time to look discovering ways of reaching those many schools where no Mandarin is currently being taught, and where there are no plans for it to be developed as part of a 1 + 2 languages policy. Even without the current pandemic these are challenging times for schools, local authorities, and finding additional sources of funding, such as those needed to introduce Mandarin into the curriculum.  However, as we emerge from the current crisis, Scotland as a nation must have the opportunity to play its part on the world stage. In this, a crucial partner will be China, with its ever increasing influence worldwide. Simply, young people in Scotland must have the chance to interact with the next generation emerging in China on their own terms, and to do this young Scots must have the chance to learn at least some of the Chinese language. In 2021, SCEN will be making this case more strongly than ever.


One of the most powerful ways of encouraging a fresh generation of young people to consider learning Mandarin is through hearing the voice of more senior students who have already started to study the language, some to SQA certificate level. In the past, SCEN has taken this forward through conference events, bringing young people together at central venues. We have also organised a Youth Committee, meeting from time to time, face to face, in Edinburgh. Neither of these options is currently possible. We are looking to be innovative in finding a solution to this, and have suggestions on how schools where Mandarin is being taught can support colleagues and students in other schools. This could be, for example, through making their own videos which could be uploaded to the SCEN website and widely promoted. We are also considering holding a virtual conference/ webinar event for young people. Rosemary Mitchell is leading for SCEN in taking this forward. If your school can help in preparing some material which we can use and promote, please contact Rosemary direct at Also please contact Rosemary for any ideas you and your school may have to promote the work you are doing in the learning and teaching of Chinese.
We also intend to bring young people together, in a new forum, using the platform of E-sgoil, supported by CISS. Watch this space!
The SCEN Ambassadors programme continues to support the work of teachers and students in schools. For more details visit the SCEN website /scen-ambassadors/


Details and speakers to be arranged.
Anyone with an interest in taking forward the teaching of Mandarin across Scotland should be part of this event. We shall be in touch soon with details. Meanwhile, please make sure this important event is in your diary!
As part of our work with GTCS, we are looking to develop a leaflet/ online document, provisionally entitled “So you want to teach Mandarin?” which will be aimed at potential future teachers of Mandarin in Scotland.
SCEN is also engaging actively with Scottish Government, Education Scotland, and CISS on taking the Mandarin agenda forward.


The SCEN Chinese Teaching Club (CTC), consisting of teachers of Mandarin from across Scotland, met most recently, online, on 6 November. The Club has an increasingly important role in discussing the sharing of good practice, developing of materials, and supporting teachers of Chinese. Acting chair of the Club is Jean Wang (Wang Chinyu) at Hillhead High School in Glasgow. If you are teaching Chinese and are not yet part of the CTC, please contact Jean at


The next meeting of the SCEN Advisory Council will be held online on Friday 29 January at 2 p.m. We look forward to sharing with representatives of partner organisations as to how we can take forward the Mandarin agenda in very different times.


We are currently working to update the SCEN website. For any comments and suggestions contact our website manager Megan Hammell at

2020 has been for most of us one of the most challenging in our lives and professional careers. It is a challenging time for the learning and teaching of all languages, including Mandarin.
It remains SCEN’s central goal to put the strongest of cases forward for the learning and teaching of Mandarin in schools across Scotland.
As a member, or potential member of the SCEN Network, you have an invaluable role to play.
We hope you have a peaceful, safe, and happy time over the coming festive season.
My very best wishes to you all for 2021.

Simon Macaulay