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Inner-City Latin

by The Latin Programme
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Inner-City Latin
Inner-City Latin
Inner-City Latin
Inner-City Latin
Inner-City Latin
Inner-City Latin
Inner-City Latin
Inner-City Latin
Inner-City Latin
Inner-City Latin
Inner-City Latin
Inner-City Latin
Inner-City Latin
Inner-City Latin
Inner-City Latin
Jonathan in the classroom
Jonathan in the classroom

Meet Jonathan, The Latin Programme’s longest-serving teacher.  When he started working with The Latin Programme he taught 60 children per week. Now, eight years later, he teaches over 600 in 22 different classrooms across London.

Before joining The Latin Programme Jonathan worked as a music producer and had his own pirate radio show.  His hip-hop background is surprisingly useful in the Latin classroom where he encourages pupils to participate in activities based around music and performance.  Using a call-and-response technique Jonathan helps children understand verbal cues and has written rap songs about various grammatical concepts to help them with memorisation.  If you were to take a peak into one of The Latin Programme classrooms you might find him teaching the “nominative case song” (see below), playing games like the Mexican wave or noughts and crosses and then finishing off with some translation. 

Engaging pupils in this way makes lessons interactive and fun.  Children not only absorb the principles of grammar, syntax and language structure, which help their literacy and language learning, but also have a great time doing it.  It is no surprise that we regularly hear: “Latin is my favourite subject”.

Jonathan says that even with just one Latin Programme lesson a week many of the 10 year olds he teaches with The Latin Programme in state primary schools know at least as much Latin as some of the 13 year old privately-educated children he occasionally tutors. And that’s what makes the job so rewarding for him.

Your funding allows The Latin Programme to recruit teachers like Jonathan who engage and excite children to learn.  By making lessons enjoyable The Latin Programme ensures that all children, regardless of their background, gain solid literacy skills to take forward into their lives.

Thank you so much for your continued support.

Student feedback form
Student feedback form
Student feedback form
Student feedback form

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A study out this week reveals that the geographic area in which a child lives has an impact on their academic achievement.  The research, by The Social Market Foundation, compared the performance of 11-year olds born in 2000 with those born in 1970 and examines inequality by region, income and ethnicity.  The findings show that "the geographic area a child comes from has become a more powerful predictive factor" than in the past.  Regional differences in attainment are apparently already discernable by the end of primary school and remain present even after other factors, such as ethnicity and income, are considered.

The initial research also showed that a very low proportion of pupils who receive Free School Meals end up achieving 5 A* to C grades at GCSE level (40%) compared to those not receiving Free School Meals (70%), indicating that parental income is still very much a factor in children’s levels of attainment. In primary school children the study found that high ability children at age 11 are much more likely to come from families in the top income deciles and low ability children to come from families in the bottom income deciles.

The good news is that students in London have the highest results in England.  But even in the capital results vary by location.  Kensington and Chelsea, one of London’s most affluent boroughs, (where the average earnings in 2012/13 were £116,350) has the highest percentage of pupils achieving five good GCSEs in state schools across all of England.  While just a few miles away Barking and Dagenham (where the median income is £29,420) is among the bottom 20 local authorities in all of England for primary school inspection outcomes

At the Latin Programme we know that by the time children are seven, nearly 80% of the difference in GCSE results between rich and poor children has already been determined, which is why we focus our work in primary schools.  Our mission is to support all children, regardless of borough, ethnicity or family income to attain and improve their literacy skills, as being literate increases opportunity in all aspects of life, laying the foundations for better health, community involvement and employment,

Please support the Latin Programme in our work to open the future to all children through improving literacy.

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Inspired by the work of the Latin Programme, the staff and pupils of St Peter’s Eaton Square decided to embrace the traditions of the ancient world by giving their annual Sports Day a Latin theme. The children prepared banners which staff and parents used to enthusiastically cheer on the competitors, yelling Latin words of encouragement. For those going for gold, there was the motto nulli secundus/secunda (second to none), those trying to beat their personal best took encouragement from vincit qui se vincit (he who conquers himself is victorious), and for those bringing up the rear, there was nil desperandum (never despair).  

This nod to the ancient world does seem rather apt given that the Greeks gave us the Olympic Games and the Romans carried on the tradition of competitive sport.  Transported to ancient Rome you might have seen gladiatorial contests in the Colosseum or chariot-racing in the Circus Maximus, and we also have the Romans to thank for the motto mens sana in sano corpore (a healthy mind in a healthy body).

The Latin Programme currently teaches 150 children at St Peter’s.  They have achieved such impressive results to their literacy levels that the school has now designated Latin as their Foreign Language, meaning that it is taught all the way through Key Stage 2 in Years 3 through 6.  We know that the more years of Latin students have the greater the impact on their literacy levels and by extension their life chances.  After one year of Latin, 60% of students in the programme achieve expected literacy levels, this rises to 78% after two years and to an amazing 98% after three.  Nicola Cottier, Headteacher at St Peter’s, describes the Latin Programme’s presence as a “fantastic development", commenting that "the children love it”.

Thank you for helping us improve literacy among disadvantaged and at risk children in London – we think the results speak for themselves! 

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Lillian working with Year 4 student
Lillian working with Year 4 student

I volunteer as a teaching assistant for the Latin Programme in a large primary school near the university I attend in central London.  I chose to volunteer with The Latin Programme because I have very fond memories of learning Latin at school.  I come from a household where Armenian, Russian and Iranian are spoken, so languages have always been an important part of my life.

This year I have been working with two Year 4 classes and my experience with each has been very different. In one, I help children improve their English through Latin, while in the other I assist children in improving their Latin through English.

In the classroom where I am helping children improve their English through Latin I have been working with two boys who have just joined the school this year.  One of the boys is from Guinea and has never been to school before and the other is from Saudi Arabia and is just learning to speak English.

Of course, teaching Latin through English when English isn’t a child’s first language is a Herculean task. However, as I have worked with them over the year, I have seen a significant improvement in their basic skills and understanding. Interestingly, their growing ease with English has also influenced their grasp of Latin.  They are now beginning to connect English meanings to Latin words—it’s very exciting.

At the beginning of every class the children greet the teacher with a resounding, “salve magistra!” This has made such an impression on one of the boys that on the way up the stairs from playtime he now shouts to me, “salve magistra! Hi, Miss!”

Before I started learning Latin, English was not a subject I was particularly good at. Learning Latin helped me understand why sentences work the way they do and immensely improved my general literacy and facility with English. In fact, I attribute my decision to take English at A level completely to Latin. Latin greatly influenced and changed my time at school for the better and this is why I believe the work of The Latin Programme is so important.  I have loved working with the children and seeing their progress this year so much that I have decided to come back and volunteer with The Latin Programme again in September!

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At The Latin Programme we make Latin come alive. Using interactive and kinaesthetic teaching methods we include rap, games and storytelling in our lessons so that children often don’t even realise they are learning.  In fact, “fun” is the word most often used to describe our classes in student feedback. 

However, teaching this ‘dead’ language in an innovative and engaging manner is not easy.  As Zanna Wing-Davey, the Executive Director of The Latin Programme explains, “We struggle to find appropriate teachers.  Whilst there are a number of Classics graduates interested in teaching, few have any experience in the classroom and even fewer have the skills needed to engage, excite and hold the attention of young children, manage a classroom and respond to the needs of mixed ability classes.”

In an effort to address the scarcity of classroom-ready Latin teachers we have designed the Teacher Training Project. Supported by Classics for All, this training scheme, like our Latin classes is bespoke and personalised.  Combining small seminar groups with hands-on classroom experience, trainees from all walks of life will learn how to engage with the challenges of the inner-city classroom. Topics covered will include addressing the literacy challenge, how to ensure the participation of students with special educational needs, engaging students with English as an additional language and cultural diversity in the classroom.  We believe that having fun is fundamental to learning, whether in a primary school classroom or teacher training seminar, so fun will be an essential element of this training as well.  There is certain to be quite a bit of laughter when our trainees attempt to rap for the first time!

Enthusiasm for the Teacher Training Project is coming in from all corners. Academic, author and television historian Professor Michael Scott says, “It's fabulous to see Classics for All and The Latin Programme work together on this new project to enable teachers to open up the wonderful world of Latin for their students. The Latin Programme team are fun, dedicated and brilliant at what they do. Anyone working with them is guaranteed to never regret it." 

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The Latin Programme

Location: London - United Kingdom
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Project Leader:
Anna Richmond
London, London United Kingdom
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