Supporting languages through partnership work

Posted on: 01 Mar 2019

Dr Tim Willmott, deputy head at Loughborough Grammar School, writes how his school and a local state school have supported the teaching of Latin through their partnership work.

Rushcliffe School is a secondary school with academy status in the Rushcliffe district of Nottinghamshire. Rushcliffe has high aspirations for their pupils and wanted to broaden the pathways of their high ability students to universities such as those in the Russell group. The school felt that one way to make their students stand out from other applicants was to introduce Latin into the curriculum.

Before the partnership between Rushcliffe and Loughborough Grammar School (LGS) was established, Latin provision consisted of a few twilight sessions for interested pupils. It was through plans to expand and cater for a more extensive provision, that staff at Rushcliffe realised they needed additional support. Through a member of staff, who had taught at both schools, a partnership was forged between Rushcliffe and LGS's classics department.

Our first meeting was at LGS, to discuss the possibility of Rushcliffe offering Latin GCSE. Teachers at both schools worked together to find a suitable Latin GCSE course and, following the meeting, it was agreed LGS and Rushcliffe would work in partnership going forward.

Since that initial meeting,LGS has helped Rushcliffe to launch Latin within their MFL department. Two LGS teachers led introductory sessions into the Latin language, beginning with the Latin that the students may already know, and the basic features of the language. Through using a collection of archaeological artefacts for handling and discussion, and LGS’s replica legionary weapons, it was clear pupils were becoming enthusiastic and engaged with the subject.

Once the subject was up and running at Rushcliffe, LGS provided subject-specific advice to support the delivery of the WJEC Latin GCSE. A second session was provided to pupils who had taken the subject, discussing syllabus material including the Latin poetry of Ovid and chariot racing.

“Since the beginning of the partnership the Grammar School has enabled us to develop the provision of Latin within Rushcliffe School” comments Zoe Harrison, a Spanish teacher from Rushcliffe School. Following two visits and four sessions, LGS teachers were able to deliver Latin to more than 120 pupils.

Since the partnership, Rushcliffe has enrolled 28 pupils who have embarked on a three year GCSE course in Latin. This course is now in its third year, and all students are enjoying their studies. To support the teachers at Rushcliffe with this, staff from LGS delivered the literature and civilisation elements of the course, which was also useful training for the MFL teachers who teach Latin.

In summer 2018 a further taster session afternoon for the next Year 8 group has resulted in over 20 more Rushcliffe pupils signing up to study Latin. Both of these classes take place after school or at lunchtimes and require commitment from the pupils involved.

The Grammar school continues to support the development of Classics teaching at Rushcliffe – a partnership both schools hope will continue long into the future.

About Dr Tim Willmott

Dr Tim Willmott is deputy head at Loughborough Grammar School.