The Tiger Primary free school in Maidstone has a strong focus on teaching Mandarin. A survey by the British Council earlier this year found that only 3% of primary schools offering any Mandarin teaching at all. Those that do it's usually a few classes from the age of seven.
The Tiger Primary School is much more keen:
All children will learn Mandarin from Reception class up and in the future use Chinese abacuses to master numeracy. We believe it is extremely important to expose children to other languages and cultures at an early age, with children already introduced to the language at the Trust's existing nursery.
NLL Academy, where Tiger is based, is one of 272 Confucius Classrooms, established in 88 countries across the globe, making it a Centre of Excellence for the teaching of Mandarin. Being able to utilise Academy resources means that pupils will have three Mandarin lessons each week with tutors from NLL. Research suggests that Mandarin supports the development of both sides of the brain and the Abacus technique makes pupils more adept at mental arithmetic and embeds numeracy in children's minds.
There are other distinctive features to the school. There is an extended school day but the extra hours are optional. There is also a school farm:
We have a superb school farm on site with a range of animals including sheep, donkeys, pigs, goats, cattle, rabbits, ponies, ducks and chickens. Frequent supervised visits to the farm and walks through our woodland will add enormously to our children’s learning and enjoyment of their curriculum.
Great. But it's probably the Mandarin that will of the greatest importance in competing in the global economy.