Parents campaigning to set up a Mandarin language school have an extra reason to celebrate the Chinese New Year after their plans were approved.

The Marco Polo Academy was given the green light by the Department of Education, and is due to open serving children in the Burnt Oak area this September.

To celebrate, parents and backers will dress up in traditional oriental costumes and the academy have its own float at the big Chinese New Year parade in Leicester Square.

The bilingual primary school, for four to 11-year-olds, will teach lessons in both English and Mandarin.

Laura Chan, who is backing the plans, said: “We are obviously delighted. We have big visions for the school and can’t wait to start making plans.

“We are now in the process of building relationships with other local schools. It’s going to be a great place for children to learn.

“Given that it’s the Chinese New Year this weekend, it couldn’t have come as a better time as well.”

Teachers will follow curriculums from both the UK and Singapore and cultural activities including Chinese knitting will be taught during lessons.

The academy will also have links with schools in China and there are talks about running an exchange programme.

The school will be open to anyone and will admit 52 pupils per year, with 26 children per class.

But the preferred site at Pavilion Way in Burnt Oak has provoked opposition from campaigners.

The land was given to Barnet Council by Transport for London in 1985, with the express condition it would be used for sporting purposes - and many say it could be used by the next generation of athletes.

Last year, the authority sold the land off to the academy - but its planning committee will decide whether the school receives planning permission.

However, the Education Funding Agency will have the final say on whether the project will go ahead on the site.

Mrs Chan added: “It will have to take its course and its out of our hands now. We don’t have much say in it.

“We’ll just have to see what happens.”