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Getting Classics into Schools

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From contacts made preparing for our 2nd July 2018 event Emperors, Coins, Frogs and Oracles, and from continued efforts since, Classics is now being introduced to several local schools from September 2019, these being Barr’s Hill School, President Kennedy School, Stoke Park School, and Cardinal Wiseman School, all in Coventry, and Lawrence Sheriff School in Rugby.

At Barr’s Hill School, Coventry, Classics will be introduced to Year 7 this September to every student regardless of ability (130 students). The first unit will focus on Pompeii and Latin thereby following the CLC. The second unit will focus on Ovid Metamorphoses. 46 year7 pupils from Barr’s Hill also attended the ‘Coventry: A City of Cultures event’ which funded students from local schools for a visit with talks and workshops to the Herbert Gallery in Coventry and Lunt Roman Fort (see below). WCN will be posting resources from this event online for use in local schools as another way of introducing classics to the school curriculum.

President Kennedy School, Coventry, are introducing MegaGreek as part of an extra-curricular classics club for 50 Year 7 students. Charlie Andrew (CfA) led a training day (approx. 4 hours), and as Charlotte Stentoft reported to PG – ‘Both of us started the day with zero previous knowledge or experience of ancient Greek, but left feeling empowered and confident to start teaching by the training.’ They will be looking to use student leaders in year 8 for September 2020 and possibly offer the club to year 8 then also. PG took VR headsets into the school for a Year 7 High Attainers club and invited the students to our WCN project ‘Coventry: A City of Cultures’. Students of GCSE English from President Kennedy School also attended our ‘Ancient Images, Modern Eyes’ event in March 2019. This event involved a series of interactive talks and activities on themes pertaining to the depiction of the ancient world in modern media and demonstrated how Classics could be introduced to non-Classics students through a medium they were more familiar with (see below).

With the help of WCN, Stoke Park School, Coventry received £1350 from Classics for All to launch a Classics Project for Year 7s in September 2019. Pupils will receive 3 lessons a week and will be taught Latin (using the Cambridge Latin Course), as well as exploring the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire. Around 180 Yr7 pupils will be involved with hopes that this will expand after the next academic year.

Stacy Howe at Stoke Park School gave this response to our question ‘What have you gained from WCN and Classics for All?’

  • Time- time to meet and develop a vision of Classics at Stoke Park, time spent helping us to fill out our grant application to ensure it would gain us funds, time to reply to queries via email no matter how small.
  • Training, funded by Classics for All- Steve Hunt is giving us bespoke training, tailored towards the staying points of our staff and our curriculum.
  • Opportunity- to be brave and bold, to do something different with our pupils. This will enable them to gain cultural capital and open doors that may have been previously closed to them. It also unlocks learning across the curriculum, as they can appreciate the origins of important aspects of society.
  • Knowledge- of resources, of key texts, of pedagogical strategies.

At Lawrence Sheriff School, Rugby, Steve Hunt for Classics for All, and the WCN, are creating two short six-week courses, one on Ancient Greece, one on Ancient Rome, to be led by their Head of Politics, Nick Wharton in enrichment sessions. These courses will then be placed online and made available to all and so will be used to form ties and introduce some Classics to more local schools.

As the chart (below) shows, prior to the formation of the WCN, just 8 of the 54 State Secondary schools in Warwickshire offered any dedicated space to Classics-subjects on their curriculum. Due to the work of the WCN, in September 2019 this will have increased to 14, from 15% to 25% of the whole. We are currently working with a further 10 schools, and our aim is to get Classics into 45% of Warwickshire State Secondaries by September 2020.

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As well as working with Classics for All in the introduction of Classics into the schools of our region, here at the WCN we are busy developing new Ancient History GCSE and A-Level resources which we will be hosting on our WCN website. This is a very exciting project involving some of our WCN teachers and academics here at Warwick. In addition, we will be helping WCN develop more resources for KS2 and KS3.