A Hive of Activity: Primary Latin Partnerships

MCfA’s Maria Haley and David Langslow attended a lunchtime reception for the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, who was visiting Withington Girls’ School to celebrate the community work of their sixth-form students. The teachers at Withington had set up a beautiful display to showcase the school’s projects. Classics featured both in the Shine programme and especially in the Manchester Classics for All partnership between Withington Girls and Mauldeth Road Primary.

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For the past four years, Latinists from Withington Girls have been teaching Latin at Mauldeth Road Primary, running a 6-week course in a lunchtime club, which in the course of each year is taken by all of Mauldeth Road Year 5. This initiative has sky-rocketed, as many of the primary students elect to continue with the club in Year 6 for an additional 6 weeks using Minimus, a course that follows a mini mus (mouse) through ancient Vindolanda, the most famous Roman fort on Hadrian’s Wall.

No sooner had Withington Girls’ Head of Classics Jo Howler told us about the confidence the project gave her students, than we were joined by sixth-former Lucy, who had taught on the project herself. Brimming with enthusiasm, Lucy told us how much she enjoyed teaching pupils at Mauldeth Road and sharing her language skills from A-Level Latin. Primary teacher Alice Watkins from Mauldeth Road commended the Withington GS students’ efforts to engage primary pupils in Classics, emphasising just how much her pupils are now enjoying Latin beyond the six-week course.

Mayor Andy Burnham spent a good few minutes chatting to the four of us. He was clearly impressed by the win-win approach and achievements of the state-private partnership, by the benefits and enjoyment that it gave the Withington sixth-formers as well as their younger pupils at Mauldeth Road. He warmly commended the students’ work in the primary school and recalled his own interest in Latin, which stemmed from studying Spanish as an undergraduate. He acknowledged the importance of Latin across the curriculum — from literacy, spelling, grammar and vocabulary in English to other foreign languages and even science subjects — and the great contribution that Latin makes to young people’s self-confidence in oral and written communication.

Most importantly, the enthusiasm for Latin has been mutual and infectious: the Withington Girls have inspired their Mauldeth Road primary pupils, and they, in turn, have boosted their young tutors’ confidence in and passion for the subject. Lucy and Alice reflected on the curious questions that some of their primary Latinists ask, such as: “Why are words female?”. This collaboration is an MCfA beacon, a shining example of what can achieved in state-private partnerships,  and is at the heart of what Withington Girls stand for.

Manchester Hive

Later in the Arts Centre, in his keynote to the whole school, the Mayor also highlighted the role the school plays in Greater Manchester, praising them for emulating theManchester Bee. The Bee represents not only industry but also solidarity, reflecting the way the residents of Greater Manchester come together. The partnership between Mauldeth Road and Withington Girls showcases this; it is a hive of activity, creativity and community.


hunc circum innumerae gentes populique volabant; ac velut in pratis ubi apes aestate serenafloribus insidunt variis et candida circumlilia funduntur, strepit omnis murmure campus.

About it hovered peoples and tribes unnumbered; even as when, in the meadows, in cloudless summertime, bees light on many-hued blossoms and stream round lustrous lilies and all the fields murmur with the humming.

Virgil’s community of bees, Aeneid 6. 706-10.


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