Education bosses at Westminster Council have recently announced the exciting news that five London primary schools will be offering Latin lessons under a new pilot scheme.
St Matthew’s CE Primary School, Gateway Primary School, St Barnabas CE Primary School, St Vincent de Paul and Burdett Coutts CE Primary School, will teach the classical language through lunchtime clubs or after school. Children will be taught Latin (from which Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and French have all stemmed from) through 'Minimus the Mouse' textbooks using activities, games and storytelling. The course provides a lively introduction to the Latin language alongside the culture of Roman Britain, taught through an illustrated mix of comic strips, stories and myths.
According to recent data from Friends of the Classics, only four per cent of state primary schools currently teach Latin, a stark contrast compared with 40 per cent of independent primary schools. However, the council believes that children in the state sector should have equal opportunities to learn and appreciate the ancient language.
Cllr Nickie Aiken, Westminster Council's cabinet member for children and young people, said: "Latin shouldn't only be reserved for pupils at independent schools and we believe that children in the state sector should be given the opportunity to take it up. Latin undeniably helps children to learn other languages and also trains pupils in logical and analytical skills as well as providing a foundation for writing English."
Deputy head teacher, Emily Norman, who studied Classics at university, and will be teaching Latin at St Matthew's to Year 4 pupils, said: "We are thrilled to be able to offer Latin in our school. It is wonderful that our children, who come from such diverse backgrounds, are being given the opportunity to access Latin in such an inclusive way. I loved Latin at school, and hope that our pupils at St Matthew’s will too."
Mayor of London Boris Johnson, a strong supporter of Latin in schools, added: "I commend the efforts of the educational organisations and volunteers bringing Latin back into state schools. We cannot possibly understand our modern world unless we understand the ancient world that made us all and there is simply no better way than to make young minds think in a logical and analytical way."