MANDARIN rather than French will now be on the curriculum for all new pupils at Shakespeare old school.
King Edward VI School will teach the Chinese language alongside Latin to all boys who join in Year 7 from September.
The pupils will then have the opportunity to study a third language, from French, German or Spanish, in their second year at the school.
Deputy Headmaster Thomas Walton explained the rationale behind the school’s decision.
He said: “Mandarin is the most spoken language in the world, with approximately one billion native speakers.
“By offering the opportunity for all our students to learn this language we will undoubtedly provide them with a distinct advantage in an increasingly globalised job market.
“They will also be exposed to a rich and varied culture with the chance to visit China and sample a different way of life as part of their studies.”
Headmaster, Bennet Carr added the school always looked to offer the best of the old and the new.
He said: “The curriculum we offer is broad, balanced and challenging – the best of the old and the best of the new– where the study of Latin, the traditional arts and sciences co-exist in equal value with the latest developments in science, computing and technology.
“Whilst we are an ancient school that cherishes its traditions I believe that the past is a place for reference and not residence. By introducing Mandarin we are helping prepare our young people for the future.”
Dr Paul Edmondson, Head of Research at The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, was convinced the bard would have welcomed the introduction of Mandarin to the curriculum.
He said: “The Latin that Shakespeare learned in the King’s New School (now known as King Edward VI School) helped him to become one of the leading writers of his day, and one of the greatest of all time. Now successive students continue to follow in his footsteps with 21st century opportunities and challenges.
“I think Shakespeare would be astonished and excited about the teaching of Mandarin in his old school. He’d certainly appreciate the creative and entrepreneurial prospects that the language will no doubt present to receptive minds. As he says in Sonnet 108: “What’s in the brain that ink may character.”
This latest development is one of a number of changes in recent years at the bard’s former school.
Female students were admitted for the first time in the School’s 460 year history when its Sixth Form became co-educational in 2013.
And this year the school will commemorate the 400th anniversary of its most famous old boy by opening Shakespeare’s Schoolroom to the public for the first time. On 23 April 2016, following a £1.8milllion restoration, Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall will open its doors giving visitors the chance to discover how and where the world’s greatest playwright, William Shakespeare, spent his school years and first experienced theatre.