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Helping Latin in State Schools

03-02-2014 15:22

Professor Christopher Pelling
Professor Pelling

The Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove announced today (3 February) that Professor Christopher Pelling of Oxford University ‘will be leading a brand new project in collaboration with several universities to develop top-quality professional development for non-specialist teachers of Classics, as the subject booms in the state sector’.

The growth dates back to the previous government, and in the last decade the number of secondary schools offering Latin has almost doubled from c. 550 to 1068: the increase has nearly all been in the state sector, and now more state schools than independent offer Latin. However, the number of specialist Latin teachers leaving the profession, usually through retirement, is far more than the number being trained: some 60+ leavers, some 35 being trained.

Oxford has deep admiration for the dedication and commitment of those teachers, often from a specialist background in History, Modern Languages, or English, who have done so much to promote Latin in their schools, and we are delighted to give what help we can. This generous grant from the Department of Education will enable us to do a lot more.

This will be a collaborative project with other universities and particularly with the Cambridge Schools Classics Project, whose Director Will Griffiths is working closely with us. We will host a series of training courses, some week-long and some on week-ends. Long-serving teachers will share their knowledge and techniques, and those who have successfully started Latin in their schools will pool their experiences and give advice to those who wish to follow suit. University teachers will also give talks on their own fields of expertise. We shall also devote resources to producing high quality video documentaries on particular topics for GCSE and A level. These will enable all students in the country to benefit from the insights of leading academics.

Professor Pelling said today:

            ‘This is exciting news. There is so much terrific work being done in state schools to make Latin available to those who want to study it – and quite a lot of young people do. I am a state school product myself, and I only wish that more could have the opportunities that I enjoyed myself: this will do something to help, and we are most grateful to the Department of Education for making it possible. It is a collaborative project, and I hope it will involve many other universities as well as Oxford and Cambridge.’

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