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Top of the class: Child prodigy who is about to take his maths A-level... at the age of TEN

At the age of ten, Yi Fan has already passed GCSE and AS maths exams with flying colours and is about to sit his A-level.

So although he's half the age of most degree-level maths students, his primary school had no choice but to draft in a university professor to keep up with him.

And while his parents are naturally proud of his prodigious talent, they are already wondering whether secondary school education will hold him back.

yi fan
  Yi Fan is so gifted at maths that his school has hired a university professor to tutor him

'Yi began talking about fractions when he was just three,' said his father Mizi Fan, 46, a senior lecturer in civil engineering at Brunel University in West London. 'His teachers realised in Year One that the curriculum was just not challenging for him.

'Now I find it very difficult to keep him challenged. I don't know where he will go to school because I think a normal secondary school would be a waste of time for him.'

Yi's mother Aihe, 45, a housewife with a degree in engineering, said: 'He has always been eager to learn and very inquisitive. We have never had to push him.'

Yi, whose parents met at university in China before they moved to Britain 16 years ago, beat more than 100,000 children to win a national primary school maths competition last year.

  yi fan
 Last year, Yi beat more than 100,000 11-year-olds to win a national primary school maths competition when he was aged nine

The schoolboy, from Watford, is currently ranked among the top 100 Year Nine pupils in the country, even though they are three years older than him.

He gained top grades in his maths GCSE and AS-level and will take the A-level next month.

He also excels in English and physics, is preparing for his grade seven piano test and has just started to learn the oboe.

With so many opportunities open to him, Yi - whose elder brother Xin, 16, achieved 11 A*s in his GCSEs this year - remains unsure what he will focus on in the future.

'I haven't really decided what I want to do when I grow up,' he said. 'I just want to carry on learning as much as I can. I am not so good at football and am not in the school team. I will keep working at it but you can't be good at everything.'

Kevin Sullivan, deputy head of Knutsford School in Watford, said he had never seen a student like Yi in a career spanning 35 years.

'Yi's needs can be met for most subjects, though we have had to think hard to find maths work to challenge his ability,' he said.

'We purchased a maths computer program which would challenge an able child for years but Yi finished it in a couple of sessions.'

Mr Sullivan got in contact with Alan Davies, a professor of mathematics from Hertfordshire University who specialises in helping exceptionally gifted children.

He now provides Yi with regular tuition tailored to his talents. 'I am impressed by Yi,' he said. 'I haven't found anything that has given him difficulty.

'He is easy to work with because he is able to follow a mathematical argument without too much difficulty. He also sees different ways of approaching ideas.'


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