Blackpool Sixth teacher welcomes Department for Education's Latin in schools plan

A Blackpool teacher has welcomed the education secretary's plans to reintroduce Latin into some secondary schools, and hoped resort pupils will be among those who will benefit from the scheme.

Tuesday, 3rd August 2021, 12:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 3rd August 2021, 12:44 pm
Blackpool Sixth teacher Peter Wright regularly works with charity Classics For All to deliver Latin in Fylde coast schools, including St John's Primary School in Poulton (pictured).

Education secretary Gavin Williamson announced over the weekend that the £4 million Department for Education Latin Excellence scheme will be rolled out to 40 secondary schools across England.

The scheme will be rolled out to 11 to 16-year-old pupils from September 2022.

It was hoped, the Government said, that by introducing Latin back into state schools, the subject would shed its "elitist" stereotype.

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Blackpool Sixth teacher Peter Wright said teaching youngsters Latin would also benefit their English and modern foreign language learning.

Currently, only around 3 per cent of state schools in England teach Latin on the curriculum, in comparison to just below half of all independent schools.

Mr Williamson said: "We know Latin has a reputation as an elitist subject which is only reserved for the privileged few. But the subject can bring so many benefits to young people, so I want to put an end to that divide."

The Latin Excellence programme will also give pupils the opportunity to visit Roman Heritage sites to broaden classics knowledge further, the Department added.

National charity Classics For All, which already works with schools nationwide to provide Latin learning to youngsters, said the scheme was a "good start."

Jimmy Mulville, chairman of the charity, said: “Any move by government to re-establish the teaching of any of the classical subjects in state schools is most welcome so this initiative focusing on Latin is a good start to that ultimate goal.”

Blackpool Sixth teacher Peter Wright, who teaches A-Level Ancient History and works with Classics For All to deliver classics subjects to Fylde coast pupils, also welcomed the announcement.

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However, Mr Wright said he was "cautiously excited" amid uncertainties of which areas in England would benefit, but hoped Blackpool would be chosen for funding to teach Latin.

He said: "It's very good news, I'm cautiously excited though as there are only 40 schools being piloted and £4 million isn't a huge amount of money in education.

"But it's definitely a good start for education to finally realise there is value in it. It's not a case of learning Latin for the sake of it, that's a very outdated idea.

"If you look at any language and the academic languages used in the classroom, it contains a higher degree of Latin words. If we're teaching kids even very basic Latin, we're giving them the gift of etymology to further their understanding of those languages."

Mr Wright has worked with Classics For All for the past four years, and regularly teams up with teachers across the Fylde coast to deliver lessons in classics to their pupils.

He said working with the charity gives schools the chance to introduce fully-funded classics subjects such as Latin and Greek with minimal training required for teachers.

He continued: "We conducted a research policy with two Year Six cohorts at Norbreck Academy, and the results were phenomenal, especially when it came to boys.

"Boys showed a 74 per cent significant improvement in their literacy skills after learning Latin, so it really is a game changer. There were such huge improvements, and particularly amongst pupil premium pupils.

"Introducing Latin has such a profound effect on language learning, not only for English but for modern foreign languages and oracy, the public speaking and debate side of things as well."

Teachers who are interested in introducing Latin to their pupils before the Government scheme is launched can email Peter to discuss further.