Pupils take on Latin from 10 years of age

Primary school children in Sheffield are getting to grips with an ancient language as part of a pioneering project.

A group of year five and six pupils from Arbourthorne Primary have taken up Latin as part of a scheme with Sheffield High School for Girls.

Primary school pupils from Arbourthorne Primary School are being taught Latin to help improve literacy standards. The initiative is being supported by Classics teachers from Sheffield High School for Girls. Pictured is Emma Burne, Head of Classics at Sheffield High School for Girls. Picture: Chris Etchells

Primary school pupils from Arbourthorne Primary School are being taught Latin to help improve literacy standards. The initiative is being supported by Classics teachers from Sheffield High School for Girls. Pictured is Emma Burne, Head of Classics at Sheffield High School for Girls. Picture: Chris Etchells

The class of gifted and talented pupils have taken part in lessons with their school’s modern foreign languages teacher Liz Griggs and head of classics at Sheffield Girls’ Emma Burne.

Classes are taken weekly to improve the pupils English skills and give them an all round perspective of the subject, combining languages, science, drama and history.

Arbourthorne’s executive headteacher Vanessa Langley approached Mrs Burne, who is leading the project, to help develop the vocabulary of her pupils.

From there both children and teachers spent ten weeks learning Latin with her.

Primary school pupils from Arbourthorne Primary School are being taught Latin to help improve literacy standards. The initiative is being supported by Classics teachers from Sheffield High School for Girls. Pictured in one of the lessons is Sneha Shiralagi from Sheffield High School for Girls. Picture: Chris Etchells

Primary school pupils from Arbourthorne Primary School are being taught Latin to help improve literacy standards. The initiative is being supported by Classics teachers from Sheffield High School for Girls. Pictured in one of the lessons is Sneha Shiralagi from Sheffield High School for Girls. Picture: Chris Etchells

The lessons were introduced as part of the school’s SHINE programme, which is led by teachers from Sheffield Girls', and they were such a success that Arbourthorne staff decided to roll out the lessons in school.

SHINE classes are supported by students from the high school, who act as mentors for the younger children.

Mrs Burne said: “I have always wanted to be a primary school teacher but didn’t want to lose my subject.

“When the children came to the school I didn’t know how fast they would pick it up and the boys were uninterested.

Primary school pupils from Arbourthorne Primary School are being taught Latin to help improve literacy standards. The initiative is being supported by Classics teachers from Sheffield High School for Girls. Pictured is Elbethel Behailu, 11. Picture: Chris Etchells

Primary school pupils from Arbourthorne Primary School are being taught Latin to help improve literacy standards. The initiative is being supported by Classics teachers from Sheffield High School for Girls. Pictured is Elbethel Behailu, 11. Picture: Chris Etchells

“However by week three one of those boys was choosing to come to Latin instead of football.”

Year eight student Rebekah Hald said: “I think Latin teaches us so much about history and English. The children really embrace the subject.”

Mrs Griggs picked up the language with the sole purpose of sharing it with her pupils.

She said: “Latin allows children access to a period of history that is fascinating for them and they relish in the gore and the brutality of the Roman times.

Primary school pupils from Arbourthorne Primary School are being taught Latin to help improve literacy standards. The initiative is being supported by Classics teachers from Sheffield High School for Girls. Pictured in one of the lessons is Imogen Graus, 13, from Sheffield High School for Girls. Picture: Chris Etchells

Primary school pupils from Arbourthorne Primary School are being taught Latin to help improve literacy standards. The initiative is being supported by Classics teachers from Sheffield High School for Girls. Pictured in one of the lessons is Imogen Graus, 13, from Sheffield High School for Girls. Picture: Chris Etchells

“They enjoy being able to work things out about the language, spotting the language patterns and work out the rules that underpin it.”

Results from the programme saw improved writing outcomes alongside expansion and enrichment of the children’s English vocabulary.

The school is now planning to take the children on a cultural trip to the British Museum to see the artifacts studied in lessons first hand.

It is hoped the programme will be rolled out to more schools in the future.

Primary school pupils from Arbourthorne Primary School are being taught Latin to help improve literacy standards. The initiative is being supported by Classics teachers from Sheffield High School for Girls. Pictured in one of the lessons is Izzy Patterson, 13, from Sheffield High School for Girls. Picture: Chris Etchells

Primary school pupils from Arbourthorne Primary School are being taught Latin to help improve literacy standards. The initiative is being supported by Classics teachers from Sheffield High School for Girls. Pictured in one of the lessons is Izzy Patterson, 13, from Sheffield High School for Girls. Picture: Chris Etchells