School pupils across the North-East are to be given the chance to learn Chinese with the launch of a pioneering new language centre.

Newcastle High School for Girls and St Cuthbert’s Catholic High School have launched the Swire Chinese Language Centre Newcastle, to bring Chinese language learning to children of all backgrounds across the region.

Teachers from the Newcastle-based centre will visit each participating school, allowing both primary and secondary school pupils to learn about Chinese language and culture as part of the curriculum or as an extra-curricular activity.

Headmistress Hilary French at Newcastle High School for Girls, said: “We are delighted to be working with St Cuthbert’s Catholic High School and the Swire Chinese Language Foundation.

“This is a very exciting opportunity to share our passion for language learning with our local educational partners, here in the North-East.

“We recognise the importance of studying Chinese and we are providing future generations with valuable language skills that will enable them to maximise their career potential in the global economy.”

The Swire Chinese Language Centre Newcastle launched in September and already has over 450 pupils registered from 12 schools. The aim is to engage with 10 more schools at secondary and primary level of education in the coming months, ready for the 2018/19 academic year.

Carol Davison, Head Teacher at St Cuthbert’s Catholic High School, said: “The Swire Chinese Language Centre Newcastle opens up a fantastic opportunity for local students to learn a language that is not taught as widely as others.

“We are excited to pioneer this initiative and we would love to hear from primary and secondary schools across the North-East that would like to get involved.”

Forming part of a network with 13 other schools across the country, the centre will be funded by the Swire Foundation and is part of the Swire Chinese Language Programme, established to mark the 200th anniversary of the Swire Group.

The Swire Language Centre Newcastle is open to all maintained schools in the region and tuition is free. Schools that want to take part should contact Jennie King, the Director of Swire Newcastle Chinese Language Centre on 0191 281 1768 or email j.king@ncl.gdst.net.