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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 October 2007, 15:07 GMT 16:07 UK
UK private schools' Beijing link
Chinese reader
Chinese is growing in popularity
The Chinese government is to fund the teaching of Mandarin and Chinese culture in 10 UK independent schools.

It will pay for teachers to come from China and for software in a scheme that will involve school twinning and pupil trips to China.

In July, similar links were announced between China and five schools in England selected by the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust.

There has been a rise in the number of students studying Chinese at GCSE.

In the spring, 10 independent school head teachers will travel to Beijing to sign agreements with the Chinese government for what is being called the Confucius programme.

Schools involved include Brighton College, where all children learn Mandarin.

Others include King's College School, Wimbledon; Highgate School; King's College, Taunton; Magdalen College School, Oxford; and St Columba's, Glasgow.

China will be the second largest economy in the world by the time our pupils leave school
Brighton College head teacher Richards Cairns

Richards Cairns, the head teacher of Brighton College, said: "This is an exciting development.

"Ten world-class schools will act as beacons of scholarship for their local regions and help to ensure that more British children are prepared for the global realities of the 21st century, one of which is that China will be the second largest economy in the world by the time our pupils leave school.

"We ignore China at our peril."

Duan Yi, the Chinese coordinator of the Confucius programme, based in Beijing, said: "Britain's private schools are regarded as the best in the world as demonstrated repeatedly in international surveys.

"We in China want to learn from the best people in all areas of life and this includes the world's best schools".

Confucius Institutes are being established globally with the aim of helping the world understand Chinese language and culture.

The five schools chosen by the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust to be "Confucius Classrooms" in England will operate as hubs within networks of schools wanting to begin or expand the teaching of Chinese language or culture.

The schools are: Calday Grange Grammar School in Merseyside; Djanogly City Academy in Nottingham; Hummersknott School and Language College in County Durham; Katharine Lady Berkeley's School in Gloucestershire; and Kingsford Community School in East London.

Elizabeth Reid, chief executive at the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, said: "It is a truly 21st century project that will help us build strong foundations for the developing educational, cultural and economic partnership between China and the UK".

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