The Association for Latin Teaching

respice prospice


ARLT Newsletter 38: July 2007


Dear Classical Friend,

My train tickets to Cambridge have arrived - is wonderful - and choir music to sing at the entertainment has been selected - including the Latin alternative words to Sumer is ycomen in (yes, they are there in the original ms) and a Dufay piece, along with some 2nd century AD and early 20th century music - and I am vastly looking forward to meeting such a large number of people at the Summer School. Almost 70 when I last heard. Wonderful. Rob Soames has done a wonderful job in taking over as Director at such short notice. If you can't be there, look on the blog for reports. I have some wild idea of perhaps doing a video diary - we'll see.


Where stands Latin now?


These are exciting times for us who care about the present and the future of the Classics.

Martin Dawes, who works with Will Griffiths at CSCP, wrote just over a week ago (you may have missed it on the blog):

"I don't know if you know, but starting in April we have been sending a letter and information about offering Latin without a specialist teacher to all the secondary schools and a few of the primary schools in England that we know do not currently offer Latin, and we have this morning had our hundredth enquiry about starting up in September. All but two have been state schools, and as there are currently 460 state secondary schools offering Latin (up from 200 and something over the last five years), even if only a good proportion of the hundred go ahead as they have told us they will, it will mean a substantial increase in the number of schools and many more children having the opportunity to learn Latin. Mostly they have been planning to run clubs after school but there are a few talking about offering it on timetable and lots working out if they could get up to GCSE."

With the latest revision of the National Curriculum there should (!) be more time for fitting in Latin, and the emphasis on teaching British history ought to give a chance to boost teaching not only of the Roman occupation but also of the continuing influence of the ancients on our island story.

More state than private schools are now offering Latin, and as I commented on the blog, "It is rather urgent that enough teachers are trained to build on the magnificent missionary work being done by Will, Barbara Bell and the Minimus folk, Lorna Robinson with the iris project, and probably others."


Threat or oversight? GCSE change proposed


Following the victory in getting A level Ancient History retained, we have another challenge, less dramatic and less publicised, but potentially more important for the Classics.

The new criteria for Latin GCSE propose to drop the Roman Life part of the exam.

This may not bother top public schools, but for those schools which are now beginning to offer Latin, and may hope to take pupils to GCSE is a few years' time, it makes the exam much less attractive - as well as removing the context of the language and literature.

Latin GCSE is the hardest subject as it is. To remove the bit that many pupils find most fun would be a sad blow.

Whether you agree with me or not, your opinion is being sought at:

We have until 14th September to make our views known. It may be that QCA, who do not have a Classics specialist, just did not realise what they were doing, so the fight to reinstate Roman Life may not be too hard - but we have to let them know.


Classics in the 21st Century Marketplace


A useful booklet called Classics in the Marketplace was printed around 20 years ago, and it is time an updated version was produced. Once again I repeat what was on the blog:

The OCR Classics e-community is busy pooling arguments for and quotations about the uses of learning Latin.

What is needed most of all is not philosophical arguments - there are plenty of these around - but evidence that a Classics degree can lead to a good and worthwhile career. Post-Thatcher British parents want to see the balance sheet.

It also seems that JACT is thinking along the same lines, and investigating the possibility of a cd/dvd collection of useful quotations. Good. We need to co-operate on this. ArLT could offer a mini website where all the best statistics, testimonies and so on can be easily accessed - or we'd be equally happy to provide links to such a collection elsewhere on the web. The important thing is that the facts be marshalled and made available to teachers, students and parents.


From the chalk face


Sue Moore wrote from the Isle of Wight, so I asked her about her own school, and whether there was any other Latin taught on the island. Her reply was quite surprising:

"I am an English teacher at Sandown High School but have been teaching myself Latin on and off for the past couple of years. To get myself motivated I've started an after-school Latin club which has 16 kids (aged 13-18) and 5 staff members.

"There's also another club on the Island at Trinity Middle School which is also thriving and I'm pretty sure that there's one at one of the primary schools (can't remember which one though).

"The Head at SHS is keen on the club and would like to put it on the timetable as an enrichment activity for the sixth form, but this has not been confirmed yet."

And this is from Penny Fayter, who got in touch again at the end of June:

"Yes, the Latin goes from strength to strength. From September I will have sole charge of the Latin at Pate's. We are able to offer AS Latin now (what we call a thin AS - the 5th AS over two years). I have my first group of 4 who have just take the language module and we are now embarking on the literature. I have 28 in my year 8 set and the new Head, Shaun Fenton, is pro Latin.

"I hope to run a trip next year.

"We are hosting Alex Horne in October and I have now got contacts in many schools nearby so I am going to endeavour to cluster.

"I will also be teaching at King's in Gloucester from September so my expertise will grow. It will be lovely to work in a real Classics department instead of on my own really."


Online stuff


1. May I commend the OCR Classics Community as another way of keeping in touch with other UK Classics teachers? Go to and navigate from there.

2. Using Google Docs and Spreadsheets for sharing teaching resources. Google's online office suite allows many people to share in producing and editing documents. The ArLT website Teachers' section now has links to sample teaching materials, which you might like to look at and edit. This is an experiment that could lead to really useful sharing - and improving - of worksheets and so on.




I hope that our software has addressed this to you personally, and not as last time to a list of people. Sorry about that.

Apologies, too, to regular readers of the ArLT blog, who have already seen much of what is in this newsletter; but I think that the news of so many new schools offering Latin, the need to defend Latin GCSE, and the project to gather ammunition to persuade parents and students to take the Classics, are all so important that we all need to be aware of them and to do our bit.

Best wishes,