Fenland pupils swap usual modern languages for an ancient classic
Pupils at a Wisbech school have followed the motto "carpe diem" and have seized the day to become among the only children in the local area to be learning Latin.
Peckover Primary has introduced hour-long weekly lessons in Latin and classical civilisation for all pupils in Key Stage 2 - that is Years 3, 4, 5 and 6.
They are being taught the unusual subject by teacher Louisa Thompson, the school's English and vocabulary lead and Latin co-ordinator.
She spent the summer holidays together with fellow teacher Claire McIlhiney of Beanfield Primary School in Corby, which like Peckover is part of the Brooke Weston Trust, attending an online summer school hosted by Harrow School and Classics for All, to learn more about the subject.
Louisa, a past pupil of Wisbech Grammar, is very enthusiastic about languages and is thrilled to be teaching her students Latin.
She explained the Brooke Weston Trust's curriculum group - which is made up of senior leaders and subject specialists who set out the curriculum for its schools - decided to go for Latin rather than a modern foreign language.
Louisa said the choice of Latin was made for numerous reasons not least because 60 per cent of the English language derives from Latin. Many Latin words are similar to their English ancestors and other languages in countries invaded by the Romans.
She said: "This means that English pupils as well as those for whom English is an additional language are able to make links between words in multiple languages. As they become accustomed to ever increasing complexity in their knowledge of Latin vocabulary and word roots, it will deepen their understanding of English and other languages they speak.
"Studies have shown that children who study Latin are likely to see improved outcomes in other subjects across the curriculum, for example they will gain a deeper understanding of mathematical and scientific vocabulary.
"Learning about classical civilisation and culture provides exposure to a culture outside of our own as well as deepening children's understanding of history.
"Formerly the reserve of pupils at independent and public schools, we firmly believe that our children deserve this high quality education too and we are doing everything we can to provide it for them."
The bespoke Latin curriculum focuses on several areas including grammar, vocabulary and culture where children also study ancient mythology, Roman culture and art.
The curriculum design has been supported by Classics For All which aims to promote a Classical Education for all children, regardless of age or background.
Each term, children will study a specific grammatical concept in detail and apply it in several different contexts; they will also have a termly myth.
This term it is Perseus and Medusa and they will also learn about elements of culture within the Roman Empire, for example this term, they are learning about the structure and hierarchy of Romano-British society including slaves, masters, and governors.
Louisa said: "We have worked hard to ensure that lesson and curriculum design fits with the latest research on how children are able to learn more, remember more and do more."