Oct 2, 2017

A Day in the Life of a Latin Programme Teacher

Jonathan Teaching
Jonathan Teaching
"Each week I lead my pupils on a new step and show them what they can achieve"

Teaching and Learning Director, Jonathan Goddard (37), on a typical day’s teaching in London schools with The Latin Programme. He tells us about the challenges and rewards of the innovative Programme to help improve literacy in schools. He tells us about the daily challenge schools face and why you should support the Programme’s future.

Early Rising

"I usually wake up early – between 4 and 6am while my wife and 18-month-old son Blake are still sleeping. It’s a good time for creativity and for thinking about things that nourish my work. I like to take a moment to visualize what I want to achieve with my day. I’ll then have porridge or cereal with my son and drink a lot of coffee because I'm tired.

I leave my home in Peckham, South London at around 7.15am to make sure I’m in school on time and photocopy teaching resources. There’s often a queue for the photocopier and schools have a really limited budget for this so that is what made me think of designing some new interactive resources this year for iPads (Jonathan has designed a new Interactive Latin Textbook for iBooks coming soon).

School staff are always friendly and really welcome you as one of their community. That’s really nice but it also suits my nature to travel from school to school for my teaching. I like to be independent and be in different environments. Each day I will teach six classes of between 20-35 pupils in two different inner-city London schools. Sometimes I’ve even taught classes of 43-43 pupils. There’s not much space to move around in classes as big as that."

 A Typical Lesson

"Teaching starts at 9am. A lesson will start with an interactive activity or role play such as Gladiators, ‘Simon Says’ in Latin, listening to a song or doing a clapping game. I use these exercises to get pupils moving and establish a tone in the room before we settle down to work.

Then we usually introduce a grammar point in English. Literacy is a big challenge for many of the schools we work with and it really lays a foundation for success across the whole curriculum, even subjects like maths. After that, we’ll begin linking this grammar with the Latin, applying the same rules and relating them constantly back to English. 

After 3-4 hours of back-to-back lessons I travel by train or bus between schools on my lunch break and try to eat something on the way. Once a week I can sit down and eat some West Indian food in the Roxy Bar in Hoxton."

The Pupils

"At the end of each day I’ve taught over 150 individual pupils. They are little firecrackers: absorbent and ambitious. They want to do well but sometimes need to be shown how to persevere, how to structure their thoughts and work independently. By the end of the Programme they have learnt as much in weekly lessons as pupils in private schools who have three times that amount of Latin lessons per week.

I love the challenge of teaching such difficult material: material that requires real intellectual discipline to master it. When pupils develop these skills it is incredibly satisfying. It is wonderful to hear stories of my former pupils who are going on to study languages at secondary school or even university and see how excited they are about this new content and how much they’ve achieved.

I’m not a classics scholar. I stopped studying Latin at School when I was 18 and I was skeptical at first about the Latin Programme, but it has proved robust. What I see more and more in schools today is the challenge that literacy presents but the schools we work in are addressing that challenge creatively. And it is working.

I think The Latin Programme has a great future."

This week I…

  • Read lots of conspiracy-related trivia, Aesop's Fables, The Alphabet Book.
  • Heard the 'Basketball Breakdown' podcast, 'In Our Time' and Wes Montgomery
  • Watched: Lots of YouTube videos


Jul 5, 2017

Carmina Latina: How TLP teaches Latin through song and rap

TLP teacher, Laura Shiels, with pupils from Argyle
TLP teacher, Laura Shiels, with pupils from Argyle

As The Latin Programme seeks to improve English literary in state primary schools through the study of Latin, we use a diverse range of teaching methods to make learning Latin accessible, engaging and fun. One of these involves the use of songs and raps to teach children aspects of Latin grammar.


Any student of Latin dreads learning the endless grammar tables. Surely they can only be learned through mere repetition? Well, it has in fact been scientifically proven that words set to catchy music make it easier to remember those pesky bits of grammar!


Music and education have been talked about as a match made in heaven since the middle of the last century. An article from 1969, for example, states that ‘songs provide a means of increasing the amount of repetition possible without losing the learner’s interest’, and so ‘help the teacher by consolidating his teaching’.[1] Yet new scientific research has come to light since the turn of the millennium, and has shown that rhythmical music lyrics can ‘itch’ our brain into creating memories.[2] What’s even more interesting is that repetitions of that particular piece then ‘scratch’ the itch, and help us to produce clearer memories of the images invoked by the lyrics!


With this in mind, our teaching syllabus aims to use songs to their full potential. Songs composed by our teachers are then sung by the students, which are used to reinforce the teaching throughout the lesson. While we are always looking to increase our repertoire, the current favourites include the ‘Noun Song’ and the ‘First Declension Song’, composed and recorded by our teacher Jonathan Goddard!


Examples of our songs and can be found by following the links below –


‘Noun Song’ – https://soundcloud.com/user-549272957/noun-song


‘Bo Bis Bit Song: The Future Tense Song’ – https://soundcloud.com/user-549272957/bo-bis-bit-the-future-tense-song


‘The Case Song’ – https://vimeo.com/68384986


‘How we teach Latin and literacy’ – https://vimeo.com/139577445




[1] Richards, J. (1969) ‘Songs in Language Learning’, TESOL Quarterly, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 161-174.

[2] Anuta, J. (2006) Probing Question: What Makes a Song Catchy? (http://news.psu.edu/story/141354/2006/06/05/research/probing-question-what-makes-song-catchy)

Apr 10, 2017

Funding Cuts Jeopardising Children's Futures

Under a new formula designed to distribute school funding more fairly across England, schools in London are set to lose out. Those in Hackney, Camden, Lambeth and Lewisham will suffer the deepest losses, losing 2.8% of their funds, while those in Southwark, Haringey and Tower Hamlets will give up 2.7%, according to figures compiled by London Council.[1]  

While 2.8% may not seem like much, these cuts come on top of a £3 billion cut to schools across the country.  This is equivalent to an 8% loss in real terms, meaning that many inner-city London schools are looking at a loss of over 10% of their operating budgets.  Some schools are even asking parents to donate money [2] and "essential" items such as toilet roll and tissues.[3] 

The cuts to schools will disproportionately impact already vulnerable children.  Boroughs like Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Islington, where The Latin Programme works, have elevated crime rates, poorer-quality housing and a higher incidence of child poverty.  In fact, 50% of children in Hackney and Islington are living in poverty and almost 60% in Camden come from low-income families.[4]

Studies show that children from poorer backgrounds lag at all stages of education:

“By the age of three, poorer children are estimated to be, on average, nine months behind children from more wealthy backgrounds and according to Department for Education statistics, by the end of primary school, pupils receiving free school meals are estimated to be almost three terms behind their more affluent peers.[5]  By the time they reach 14, this gap has grown to over five terms and by 16, children receiving free school meals achieve 1.7 grades lower at GCSE.”[6]

The research evidence is clear: educational failure is strongly associated with the process of social exclusion.[7] However, The Latin Programme has demonstrated that this link can be weakened.  The Programme increases children’s literacy levels[8], a recognised cornerstone of social mobility and the foundation for educational attainment and, ultimately, access to employment.

We know that children from low-income families have to forgo experiences that most of us would take for granted.[9] For example, many of these youngsters miss out on school trips; can’t invite friends around; and often never holiday away from home.  Because The Latin Programme is taught during school hours as an established part of the curriculum, all children can benefit, not just those who can afford extra-curricular activities, or whose parents are able to devote more time and attention to their progress. [10] However, the funding cuts currently proposed are threatening to undermine—if not wipe out—these proven equalisers.

We rely on schools to contribute to the cost of having The Latin Programme in their classrooms, yet an increasing number are no longer able to afford any contribution at all.  We are therefore writing to ask for your support.

Please consider donating to help us to continue to give inner-city children the best shot at the future they deserve.

[1] See:https://www.ft.com/content/d2cbd874-f761-11e6-9516-2d969e0d3b65

[2] See:http://schoolsweek.co.uk/over-a-third-of-parents-asked-for-school-donations-survey-finds/

[3] See:http://www.kentlive.news/an-east-sussex-primary-school-facing-funding-issues-has-asked-parents-to-provide-toilet-rolls/story-30233428-detail/story.html#DYGslY0KTl1J72Ky.99

[4] See:http://www.leafletdistributionteam.co.uk/top-10-poorest-places-london/

[5] See:http://www.education.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s000977/index.shtml

[6] See:http://cpag.org.uk/content/impact-poverty

[7] See:http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/assets/0000/0947/Every_which_way.pdf

[8] See:http://www.thelatinprogramme.co.uk/benefits-impact/

[9] See:http://cpag.org.uk/content/impact-poverty

[10] See:http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/assets/0001/7863/Lost_for_Words_-_child_poverty_policy_paper.pdf

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