Chinese is part of the everyday culture at Buckswood School near Hastings. The language has been taught to the juniors for the past six years and the senior school have a 100 percent pass rate at GCSE. All the scholars eat with chopsticks on ‘Chinese Tuesdays’, where the only fare in the dining hall is noodles or sweet and sour chicken, and students take part annually in the HSBC British Council Mandarin Speaking Competition held at the Victory Service Club, London.
Chinese is one of the most popular languages on offer with the school’s students. Headteacher Mark Redsell says: “All Buckswood juniors learn Chinese, who love the graphical nature of the language; and we are pleased to be one of the few schools in the area to offer the language at GCSE and from next year at A level too.”
The Chinese New Year falls in February, and to mark the celebration the school is always a blaze of lucky red and music can be heard around the campus. Buckswood School embraces its international traditions and celebrates with the help of the Hastings Chinese Association, who loan their elaborate costumes and musical instruments for a young dragon challenge and lion dance, organised by Chinese teacher Wei Peirce, in which four teams are tested on their knowledge of the Orient, culture, language skills and chop-stick expertise.
Taking the celebrations outside the classroom, the Buckswood students turned out again this year to support the Hastings Chinese Association at the local shopping centre Priory Meadows with a showcase of student talent, including: Georgina McCarthy, who sang a Chinese classic poem; Sila Oina, who sang ‘Love’s Philosophy’; violinist Abigail Reece, who played ‘The Butterfly Lovers’ (the Chinese version of ‘Romeo and Juliet’); the lion and dragon dance team of Fletcher Kipps, Harrison Piper, Sarah Moulvi, Lilly Fisher, Caitlin Harffey Albertin Kotting McMillan, Amelia Rose McShane; and two gymnasts, Finity Soan and Tamara Ballancore, who wowed the crowd with their acrobatics.