a level curriculum


Senior school > Curriculum > A level > A level Mandarin Chinese


Gresham’s is the only school in Norfolk which offers Mandarin as part of the main curriculum for both A level and IB.  Mandarin Chinese is spoken by more than a billion people making it the most widely spoken language in the world. It is spoken almost three times more than English as a first language. 

Despite the initial challenge, there are many compelling reasons to study Chinese. Chinese is particularly fascinating because of how it depicts concepts and ideas. Through an astonishing array of beautiful logographic characters, melodic spoken language, and poetic phrasing, the language educates us in a world view morally and spiritually. The endeavour to learn Chinese can make us stronger and wiser in character. There are many practical reasons to acquire another language: Chinese is becoming an increasingly invaluable asset within global industry, relationships, and dialogues.  

Gresham’s has established an outstanding profile for its expertise in Mandarin teaching and learning. We have been teaching Mandarin to non-native speakers for over 15 years. The overall number of pupils is growing as the subject becomes popular and embedded in the life of the school. We have had an A Level/IB cohort since 2012 and are seeing non-native speakers applying to read Chinese or Oriental/Asian Studies courses at Oxbridge and other Russell Group universities.  

A Level Mandarin Chinese

Exam board: Edexcel 

Entry requirements: This course is designed for pupils who have achieved at least B grade for IGCSE or level 7 in GCSE or above. 

The syllabus for A Level Mandarin Chinese is divided into eight sub themes: 

  • Changes brought by 1978 reform 
  • Changes in China and UK relations 
  • Family 
  • Education and the world of work 
  • Communications and technology 
  • Economy and environment 
  • Traditions 
  • Cultural activities  

Societies and events

Every year, it has become a tradition at Gresham’s to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Activities include cooking (their own authentic Chinese dishes), eating (at a Chinese restaurant), or joining the Chinese students at the New Year hot pot party. 

Trips to China have been organised for students to help them learn more about the Chinese culture and language. Previously, as part of an overseas programme, students received 20 hours of Mandarin lessons and travelled to Beijing and Xian to visit schools and historical sites such as the Great Wall of China, the Summer Palace, the Terracotta Warriors, and local villages and markets. They also took part in cultural activities such as tai-chi in the morning, played Chinese musical instruments.