The Warwick Classics Network is developing an ambitious project for Coventry City of Culture 2021. Our aim is to make the schools of Coventry the most culturally enriched in the country, offering equal opportunities to all pupils irrespective of background, with the goal of involving every school in Coventry in this ambitious creative project for 2020-2021.
Coventry has a unique heritage of cultural diversity and a rich present diversity of cultures, with over 100 languages spoken. But 18.5% of Coventry’s residents are living in the 10% most deprived wards in England, with significant social, economic and health inequalities between the wards across the city, and low levels of participation in arts activities with a lack of co-ordinated cultural programming across the city.
Here at the University of Warwick we want to take the opportunity afforded by Coventry City of Culture 2021 to help tackle inequalities in the city through cultural programming and engagement. Our aim is to use Coventry’s heritage assets – such as the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum and Lunt Roman Fort - to help bring a wider range of subjects to the schools of Coventry, providing enrichment and cultural capital centred on Coventry’s unique ancient Roman past – the very beginnings of Coventry’s history and cultural diversity. Coventry is blessed with the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, with a unique archaeological site at Lunt Roman Fort in Baginton (below right), and extensive Roman artefacts also housed at the Warwickshire Museum in Warwick. We are planning to work with each of these institutions on this project to bring Coventry’s ancient world to life for the school children of Coventry and wider Warwickshire.
As well as creating this exciting project, with the help of the charity Classics for All, we aim to help give the schools of Coventry the opportunity of further increasing their cultural capital through the introduction of classics/ancient history onto their curriculum. At present about 25% of Warwickshire’s secondary schools teach some form of classics or ancient history, but the majority of these are independent schools, and we are keen to shift this balance and help Coventry develop the most open and ambitious curriculum in the country, available for all its children, irrespective of their background or income. We know that classics and ancient history can help provide the ‘Cultural Capital’ which Ofsted now require, and research has shown that exposure to Latin, for example, can help especially weaker students improve their vocabulary and learning skills (Alex Quigley, Closing the Vocabulary Gap). But above all, we simply want to make an interesting subject available to all of Coventry’s students, no matter what their background; to give every Coventry student the chance to study a broad curriculum and to engage actively in Coventry’s unique ancient heritage. In this build up to and celebration of Coventry City of Culture 2021, we want to use Coventry’s own unique multi-cultural past to unify all the school children of Coventry through their shared Roman heritage. This will be a large project, whose central focus will be the involvement of every pupil no matter what background, with Widening Participation being the very core of this project’s ethos.
In terms of Widening Participation, by 2030, Warwick are aiming to be regarded as one of the UK universities with the greatest impact on social mobility, through its ability to recognise, inspire, and enrich talented students from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds. This project fits in well with two of WP’s current strategies, the Experience Warwick Programme for KS3 and 4, and the Bright Stars at KS2, and we aim for this project to integrate with these WP activities to make the most of the resources and networks already available, and to help deliver the University’s WP targets.
Creation of Resources
A key element of the project will be the creation of a suite of online resources on the theme of Roman Coventry to be made freely available to every school child in Coventry. Building on the model used by the Lionheart Trust, University of Leicester, and Classics for All in their creation of KS3 resources for the schools of Leicester based around Roman Leicester, we aim to create online resources for KS2 and KS3, tying together information and artefacts from our local museums and Roman sites such as Lunt Roman Fort.
[A link to the Leicester Resources can be found here - https://le.ac.uk/archaeology/outreach/for-teachers/teaching-resources].
These resources will be created by Dr Grigsby at the University of Warwick, with images and scans of artefacts from local museums, creating an online resource with downloadable materials which will be used to introduce sessions on Roman Coventry both in local schools and throughout Warwickshire. This part of the project will be a joint effort between local cultural institutions and the Dept. of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Warwick.
In addition, these resources will be developed with the help of local school children themselves. As part of the proposed project, prizes will be offered to schools as an incentive to take part, including a range of Classics/ancient history books for their school library worth £500. These will be awarded to the school which has been most closely involved with the project and the creation of our schools’ resources, and/or which has done the most to make classics part of their curriculum going forwards.
The WCN are applying to the Classical Association for help in the creation of these unique resources.
Travelling Artefact Collection
In 2019 Dr Grigsby set up an Outreach group of students keen to gain experience in visiting local schools and leading sessions on classics. Our aim as part of this new project is to extend this Outreach Group to provide sessions for Coventry’s schools on their Roman past, helping us to facilitate the creation of our school resources. In addition, while the Dept. of Classics has recently received funding to create a travelling artefact collection, our Coventry 2021 project will extend this artefact project to create a travelling workshop based specifically around Roman Coventry. Through this project we aim to build strong connections between Warwick University and all of our local schools. Objects will be made available from the University of Warwick collection, from the Warwickshire Museum in Warwick, and the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry. Again we are applying to the Classical Association for help with this part of the project.
Festival of Roman Coventry 2021
Finally, in the early summer of 2021 (July) we hope to celebrate this project with a Festival of Roman Coventry. To be held either in Coventry or at Warwick Arts Centre/Oculus on campus, this will be a multi-layered event that will celebrate the work of all our participating schools, their teachers and students. This will be a chance for schools to highlight what they have achieved, for their students to display their project work (including the unveiling of the online Roman resources), and to create strong ties with the University of Warwick. Guest speakers will include the author of the successful Roman Mysteries series, Caroline Lawrence, historian and author Dr Simon Elliott, and our very own Prof Michael Scott. In addition, as part of this festival there will be workshops led by Classics for All on introducing Classics to the curriculum, as well as sessions for classics teachers which will be based around the Ancient History resources created by Classics for All. With Classics for All’s close ties with Warwick University also being celebrated, with Warwick’s leading role as a central hub for the charity, this exciting event will also be a celebration of the work of Classics for All as it enters its second decade.
2021 and Beyond: Virtual Reality - Roman Warwickshire
Building upon this project, Dr Grigsby is hoping to develop a VR project with WMG to recreate Lunt Fort as a virtual reality experience. This will allow the general public to view the Fort as it was after AD61, and to bring the Fort to life for Coventry’s school children, who will be able to use this application on their mobile phones and as part of Warwick’s outreach programme. The Dept. will make this VR experience, brought to life through their VR headsets or through PCs and tablets, central to their schools programme.
It is a key strategy that this will be an on-going project with continual creative interaction between the University and its local schools and cultural institutions for many years to come. The creation of resources will just be the first step in a creative engagement between these different institutions, building on the excitement of 2021 with a continued legacy of close relations and cultural celebrations. This positive engagement with our local community is a central part of this project, and we aim to increase Warwick’s visibility throughout Coventry through the running of the project. It is proposed that the recreation of the Lunt using VR will be expanded to include other sites in Roman Warwickshire such as Mancetter and Alcester.
Aims of the Project
- Creation of a suite of teaching/school resources on Coventry’s unique Roman past to be made available to every school in Coventry. These will be available to download and access online. Resources will include information on Roman history, daily life in Roman Britain, Roman Coventry, Boudica’s Revolt, and cultural interactions of the Romans and native Britons, with information on artefacts at our local museums. Aimed at KS2 and KS3, these will be modelled on the successful Roman Leicester resources created for Classics for All. This project will have the potential to be further extended to cover Roman Warwickshire, and to engage the schools throughout our entire region.
- We are particularly keen to engage schools and their pupils in the creation of these resources and their design – we envisage this as a creative and collaborative project between local schools, Warwick University, and our museums. These resources will provide a legacy for future generations of Coventry students.
- Travelling artefact collection of Roman objects and artefacts from Roman Coventry led by University of Warwick Classics students. This will involve school visits with talks on Coventry’s Roman past, alongside creative workshops.
- 3D scanning of objects from the collections of the Herbert Gallery and Warwickshire Museums, to add to our travelling artefact collection.
- School visits to Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Warwickshire Museum and Lunt Roman Fort.
- A showcase festival in July 2021 at Warwick Arts Centre - Coventry: A City of Classics – which will celebrate the work of all our participating schools, their teachers and students. This will be a chance for schools to highlight what they have achieved, for their students to display their project work (including the unveiling of the online Roman resources), and to create strong ties with the University of Warwick. Guest speakers to include Caroline Lawrence and Michael Scott.
- In addition, a key goal is to provide free teacher training, funding, and advice to introduce classics into our Coventry schools – i.e. as special enrichment sessions; adding classics elements to existing curriculum subjects (such as English and History); creation of extra-curricular clubs; introduction of Latin language; introduction of Classical Civilisation or Ancient History GCSE or A-levels [we have created an entire suite of resources to help schools introduce GCSE Ancient History from scratch]. Our partner Classics for All will be on hand to offer all of our schools advice and help in achieving our goal of offering the school children of Coventry the best opportunities for studying the ancient world and their own unique cultural heritage.
- To offer every single Coventry primary school access to lessons/resources on Roman Coventry alongside some Latin language to help bring Roman Coventry to life for a new generation. With the help of Classics for All we will be on hand to offer every one of these schools the information and help to introduce Latin to their curriculum.
- To create a VR experience of Lunt Roman Fort in collaboration with Warwick Manufacturing Group, for engaging school children in their Roman heritage. The VR app will be taken to schools where they will experience the virtual Fort using our Oculus Go Headsets.
- To establish strong relationships between the University and local cultural and educational institutions and to lay the grounds for continuing development of these relationships over the coming years to the benefit of Coventry as a whole.
About the Warwick Classics Network
The Warwick Classics Network, the outreach arm of the Dept. of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Warwick, is an important regional hub of the national charity Classics for All. Classics for All’s aim is to give every child the opportunity to study the ancient world, with the educational benefits that such study can bring. So far the Warwick Classics Network together with Classics for All have helped raise the number of schools in Warwickshire teaching some form of Classics on their curriculum from 10% to 25%.
Since their creation in 2018, the Warwick Classics Network has organised events that have brought over 2000 students from over 100 schools across the country. We are closely connected with schools in the local community including the Sidney Stringer Academy and the schools of the Futures Trust and frequently welcome our local schools onto campus to take part in our exciting events. In 2019 we created our student Outreach Group, whose members frequently visit local schools to run sessions on classics, and we are presently developing a travelling artefact collection to take our ancient artefacts in to local schools and lead linked sessions on various aspects of the ancient world. With the help of the Warwick Classics Network, in 2019 the schools of the Future’s Trust in Coventry - Barr’s Hill, President Kennedy, and Stoke Park - each introduced Classics to their curriculum in their own way, bringing classics to over 500 school children every week through dedicated lessons across the Y7 and y8 curriculum. In 2020 Finham Park 2 and West Coventry Academy will be adding to this success.
Our aim for 2021 is to offer every school in Coventry the chance of introducing some form of classics into their curriculum, to celebrate 2000 years of cultural diversity in our unique city. We aim to provide resources to introduce Latin to every Primary School in Coventry, and will create resources for every school child in Coventry to learn about their cultural heritage.
If you are interested in getting your school involved in this project, please contact Dr Paul Grigsby at email@example.com