Loreto Secondary School, Bray, Co. Wicklow, Ireland is an all-girls Catholic second level school. In addition to offering the standard Leaving and Junior Certificate programmes, Loreto Bray also offers the Transition Year Programme and an enhanced Leaving Certificate Programme called the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP).Loreto Bray also offers a wide range of extracurricular programmes to its students. In the area of sport, students have the opportunity to participate in hockey, basketball, badminton, table tennis, soccer, Gaelic football, rugby and other sports. Drama, debating, French, German and Spanish Language Societies and a Peace & Justice Group are among the other activities available in the school.
During the school year 2006/2007 the school Principal, in consultation with a number of staff members explored the option of offering a programme of Chinese Studies to students in Loreto Bray. Ambassador Zhang Xinsen was contacted by letter at the Chinese Embassy, seeking support and guidance on how best to introduce a Chinese studies programme into the school. A representative of the Ambassador responded to the school’s letter and suggested contact be made with the Confucius Institute for Ireland. The school was also informed of the recently established links between the Confucius Institute and University College Dublin (UCD).
Following talks with the UCD Confucius Institute, Loreto Bray was delighted to introduce a Confucius Institute funded programme of Chinese studies into the school. The programme started in September of the school year 2007/2008 and was offered to first year students. It was intended that the Chinese Studies Programme would continue throughout the six years the girls spent in second level school. It was further intended that the students would, at the end of the six years have achieved a reasonable level of proficiency in the Chinese language.
The Confucius Classroom programme stated aim of ‘developing Chinese teaching and learning in local …secondary schools and enhancing the mutual understanding and friendship between young people of both countries’ was a goal the school found it could readily embrace. Consequently, following consultation with the Board of Management, the Principal was authorised to seek approval from the Confucius Institution for the establishment of a Confucius Classroom in Loreto Secondary School, Bray. In 2006, with the helo of UCD Confucius Institute, Loreto Secondary School Bray successfully became the first Confucius Classroom in Ireland.