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Last Updated: Monday, 16 January 2006, 11:38 GMT
College makes Chinese compulsory
Brighton College
Brighton College has a Pre-Prep, Prep and Senior school
An independent college is becoming the first in Britain to make Mandarin Chinese a compulsory subject.

The move at Brighton College, in East Sussex, was said to reflect China's position as the fastest-growing economy in the world.

Mandarin Chinese will join French, Spanish and Latin as a core language for 13 to 18-year-old pupils.

New head teacher Richard Cairns said he would join the first classes in September to learn the subject himself.

"One of my key tasks is to make sure pupils at Brighton College are equipped for the realities of the 21st Century," said Mr Cairns.

Native speakers

"This year China replaced Britain as the world's fourth largest economy.

Richard Cairns
Mr Cairns wants to hand his pupils an advantage in a changing world

"We in Britain need to face up to this challenge, see it for the trading opportunity that it is, and ensure that our nation's children are well-placed to thrive in this new global reality."

Mr Cairns said around a dozen native Chinese speakers currently attended the college.

"I very much hope they will be able to help our native Sussex boys and girls get to grips with what I imagine to be a rather challenging experience.

"I have also agreed to join the first Mandarin Chinese class.

"I think it is the best way for me to show the pupils how important I regard this new addition to our core curriculum."

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