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.


Latin training at Manchester

On a humid Saturday at the University of Manchester around 35 teachers gathered for a day of short talks and workshops on Latin teaching at KS3 and beyond.

In the keynote lecture entitled Classics Now!, Steve Hunt (Cambridge PGCE Subject Lecturer) emphasised the cross-cultural aspects of Latin teaching and showcased his work in a wide range of schools in London, the Midlands and, in detail, at East Point Academy in Lowestoft. He made suggestions about how to sell Latin to school management, emphasising its relevance to literacy themes while also pointing up its cultural aspects: his message is that classics in the classroom is about people not just words. He picked up some of these themes in a workshop session on Teaching Inductively, explaining the difference between language learning and language acquisition. Teaching inductively privileges understanding language in its cultural context and emphasises comprehension of narratives.

We heard accounts from schoolteachers about their introduction of Latin classes in places where the language was not previously supported or endangered: inspiring reports on this topic were offered by Liam Holian (Levenshulme High School for Girls), Martine Molyneux (Beamont Collegiate Academy), Caroline Booth (formerly Loreto High School (Manchester) and now Turton High School), Jo Carrington and Dulcima Morgan (Clevedon School). Joanne McNamara (Liverpool College) outlined ideas about starting Latin clubs and getting Latin on the school curriculum. A wide range of experiences was discussed, including introducing Latin to both aspirational and non-aspirational pupils, introducing Latin into both monocultural and multi-ethnic classrooms, and perspectives from teachers of History and MFL who have championed Latin. There was a lively discussion of the value of rote learning and ‘Socratic’ styles of learning. We discussed ways of ensuring retention in Latin classes: ensuring that pupils take the subject seriously (as well as having fun) with support from their parents is a vital aspect of ensuring the success of classes. Holly Eckhardt (Cheadle Hulme High School) talked about her experiences in introducing the WJEC GSCE at a school which had never previously offered Latin; she emphasised the importance of combining different methods in order to teach Latin effectively in a crowded curriculum.

Some afternoon sessions showcased important resources: Charlie Andrew presented her open-access Maximum Classics resource and James Watson talked about the Cambridge Latin Course and its associated electronic resources. Jonathan Goddard talked about how Latin can be supported at KS 2 without a textbook with The Latin Programme resources (https://www.thelatinprogramme.co.uk/). Specifications were discussed later on: Jessica Coatesworth and Matt Ingham (Manchester Classics for All) and Holly Eckhardt explored aspects of the Educas Level 1/2 and GCSE qualifications. Over the course of the afternoon, John Taylor (University of Manchester) offered classes for those who are interested in learning Latin language.

The next session explored the organisation and running of classics clubs, discussing ways in which Latin classes can engage with ‘Enrichment’ activities and also the role of hands-on activities, games, crafts, sounds, songs, rhythms, and kinaesthetic and mnemonic approaches; moreover, Latin classes can be a starting point for new cultural experiences. We emphasised the importance of helping learners realise what they have understood over the course of a Latin lesson. Joanne McNamara asked how you can overcome the inherent difficulties of Latin: its inflectedness, the peculiarities of word-order, the lack of definite article, and the breadth of vocabulary. The next session, led by Pete Munday (Manchester Classics for All) discussed the benefits of introducing Latin in terms of engaging with gender and ethical issues. Holly Eckhardt looked at how Latin Clubs might be promoted within schools (e.g. through publicity at morning assemblies) and might become the starting point of introducing GCSE to a school.

This was a very rich and informative event; the audience came out with a feeling of renewed optimism about the future of Latin at schools and the sheer amount of possibilities that there are for making Latin inspiring but also inclusive. Our concluding remarks focussed on the progress that has been undertaken in terms of making Latin accessible to all but also noted regional divisions in terms of resources, expectations and approaches. Two things that were communicated very clearly were (a) the amount of hard work that is being put in by teachers into developing Latin in schools where institutional support is sometimes limited and (b) the amount of innovative resources, both online and printed, that are being developed to support classics. It is clear that classrooms of many types are benefitting from the sense of experimentation and adventure that is currently supported by many Latin teachers.


Initiating Latin at KS3 at the University of Manchester, 13th October 2018

An event supported by the Classical Association Teaching Board, the University of Manchester and Manchester Classics for All.

Greek for All

Since its inception in 2015, Manchester Classics for All – with financial support from the national charity Classics for All –  has been introducing Latin to local state primary and secondary schools where the subject had not previously existed. We are currently running Latin classes in fifteen schools in and around Manchester, with a further eight scheduled to begin next year.

Two years into the project, our commitment stands and our vision grows: by giving access to classical languages in primary and secondary schools we aim to inspire a love of the classical world and its cultures among learners at every level, and through the classical languages to enhance young people’s confidence and attainment across the curriculum especially in English language, MFL and science.

At this point, thanks to a new grant made by the A. G. Leventis Foundation to Classics for All, we are extending our provision by offering classes in classical Greek.

We  invite expressions of interest from teachers in secondary schools in the state sector who would like to explore the possibility of making classical Greek available to their pupils. Activities can be tailored to individual schools’ requests, ranging from Year 9 Greek Clubs to GCSE Greek courses. In addition, Manchester Classics for All will be running weekly evening classes in classical Greek.

If you are interested in exploring the possibility of introducing your students to classical Greek, please contact us.

Summer Fun

It’s been a busy few weeks for Manchester Classics for All; the start of the school term and university semester means recruiting new tutors, liaising with schools regarding resource provision and allocating tutors to schools, not to mention the seemingly endless administrative tasks. Our next post will detail some of this work, but now that we’ve reached half term, it’s perhaps a good time to reflect on some of the events we worked on before the summer break.

Copyright VanessaChampion.co.uk

In June, pupils from Medlock, Ladybarn and Green End primary schools braved torrential downpours – a typical Manchester summer’s day – to join pupils at Mauldeth Road Primary School for Manchester Classics for All’s first “Latin fair”, and it’s safe to say that the event was a huge success! After being entertained by a fantastic Latin play courtesy of the talented performers of Withington Girls’ School, pupils took to the arena (the school hall) to compete in a series of Roman games and collect stamps in their “Latin Passport”. Rather than fighting wild beasts or re-enacting famous sea battles, however, groups of pupils competed in less bloody activities, from dressing up as Roman soldiers to a chariot-racing themed board game, with the aim of winning as many words as possible to use in the final challenge: creating the best grammatically correct Latin sentence.


The aim of the session was not only for the pupils to have fun, but to get to grips with how a sentence is constructed in a highly inflected language like Latin; thinking about subjects, objects and parts of speech in Latin helped pupils consolidate their knowledge of English grammar too. The pupils created some hilarious work – the winning sentence turned out to be magnus porcus spectat splendidum medicum in via sed servus coquit calidum equum – “the big pig watches the splendid doctor in the street, but the slave cooks a hot horse”! Other gems were minima vespa videt tristissimum equum et portat caseum – “the small wasp sees the saddest horse and carries cheese”, and vespa acuta videt pretiosum anulum in Mamucio – “the sharp wasp sees a precious ring in Manchester”.

A couple of weeks later the project team was again out on the road, this time accompanied by Sam Fernes of the Manchester Classical Association for a “classics stretch day” at New Mills School. We were also joined by pupils from Buxton Community School, Glossopdale Community College and St. Philip Howard Academy. None of the participating schools teach Classics, so this was a great opportunity for pupils to gain some insight into the Roman and Greek way of life. Following an introductory session from Dr Peter Liddel, the pupils were split into two groups, to learn a little Latin and Ancient Greek.

In the Latin session, pupils learnt about the history of the language and how it has influenced modern languages. Through looking at a number of Latin root words, they were able to identify a great many derivatives in English and learn new ones, broadening their vocabulary while also gaining an appreciation of the influence Latin has had on both English and modern Romance languages. They also used their knowledge of derivatives to translate a number of Latin phrases. In the Greek session, pupils completed activities based around the Greek alphabet, learning how to write letters and transpose their names into the Greek alphabet. For most pupils, this was their first experience of classical languages beyond their school motto or Harry Potter spells, and was enjoyed by all.


After lunch, Sam facilitated a session about childhood in the ancient world, highlighting similarities and differences in the way Greek and Roman children lived, and compared it with modern childhood. Finally, the pupils created a piece of written work to take their learning a step further and document what they had learnt over the day. The sessions clearly fired their imaginations, and the pupils completed some fantastic pieces of work.

The project team would like to offer our thanks to everyone who helped make both events so successful; from the volunteers who helped create and run the sessions to the schools and teachers who generously provided support and resources. Most importantly, we would like to thank all the pupils who took part for their energy and enthusiasm, and hope they enjoyed the sessions as much as we did.

A Teacher’s Perspective

This month our guest blog is by Sarah Graham, English teacher and Talented and Interested Coordinator at Burnage Academy for Boys.

Working with Manchester Classics for All has proven to be one of the most rewarding and enriching tasks in my capacity as Gifted, Talented and Interested Coordinator at Burnage Academy for Boys. We are the essence of an inner-city school and our school data reflects this. When you think about the types of academic institutions that offer Latin or Classics as subjects of study, Burnage is perhaps not the sort of school that would come to mind. A lot of our boys come from socio-economically deprived areas, over one-in-three has a special educational need and most speak English as a second language. We have a steady influx of international new arrivals (INAs) arriving at different points in the year, wide eyed and overwhelmed. But it’s also because of these factors that it’s the perfect educational culture in which such a project can take root and flourish. We had 39 languages spoken within these walls at the start of the year, and it’s with immense pride that we can say that we’ve now added another.

The Cambridge Latin Course has provided a solid base in which to embed a growing knowledge of the language and also provides opportunities for some serious fun too. One of my favourite moments that has happened this year is recreating a court scene between a Greek and a Roman, about a boat, I think. Seeing the boys yell at each other in an ancient language with unabashed abandon was fantastic. They can also do a mean rendition of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in Latin now too (but not in front of anyone from outside our bubble, though, as I think they would probably go puce from embarrassment). From an English teacher’s perspective, giving them such a solid understanding of many of our root words has given them a greater relationship with (and understanding of) our language and has massively enriched their own vernacular, thus ensuring tremendous benefits in their performance in a core subject.

David Langslow has been a joy to work with and we’ve been so fortunate to experience such knowledge and enthusiasm through his involvement with us. It has also been lovely having Mahnoor Javed with us, a second-year student at Manchester University and a tutor for MCfA. Speaking with her, she has said that it has made the idea of teaching something that she would seriously consider after her studies. As a practitioner, this is wonderful to see. I have also attended workshops to facilitate becoming a tutor in the coming academic year, something that I never thought I could do, having never previously studied Latin before. I think that this goes some way to highlighting how harmonious the project is; from the students to the facilitators, there is a symbiotic culture of enrichment where everyone can benefit from each other’s skill sets and experiences. I really cannot think of a better sort of environment to become a part of.

Latin has thrived here. We have a group of dedicated, bright and engaged Year 7 students who have grown in confidence, eloquence and knowledge, as well as into their rucksacks.  As the facilitator, it has been a joy to sit and learn along with them, watching them develop with every session. Reflecting on the academic year that is now nearly over, I can safely say that working with the MCfA has benefitted us tremendously, by not just looking at our students’ results, but their development as scholars. If you are thinking about getting involved with the project, at any level, I just could not recommend it enough.

Sinister dexter!

This month our guest blog is by Pete Munday, a tutor with MCfA who is running a Latin club at Ladybarn Primary School.

At the start of the Spring term, we sat down and took the register as usual. Three out of four of the Year Six pupils (all girls) answered “hic” in the manner that, no doubt, schoolboys and girls have been doing for centuries. I had one (more scholarly) “adsum”.   They then decided to regale me with “Senex MacDonald habuit fundum” something we had been practising before Christmas, and somehow, despite all the attendant problems of maintaining discipline and interest with tired pupils on dark evenings, it all suddenly seemed worthwhile.

Other highlights have included marching round the classroom going “Sinister dexter! Sinister dexter!”. I think this proves that time spent watching “Carry On” Films is seldom wasted. They also enjoyed reading and trying to understand Catullus’ “Odi et amo” and seeing a little bit of real Latin literature in print.

Year Six is a difficult age. Moving from childhood to adolescence. Minimus is probably at the upper age limit for some Year Six pupils. Nevertheless, they like the cartoons and the family situations. We’ve all fallen in love with Pandora the slave girl.

However, even in a small group the range of abilities can be wide. Vocabulary is a little bit challenging – not in terms of the Latin but the English. You cannot take it as read that when you translate a word from Latin to English, the English word will be readily understood. Knowledge of English grammar is also patchy.

The old cliché of education being about lighting a fire rather than filling the coal bunker holds true though. We managed to write a short play based on Minimus. The pupils seemed to really enjoy expressing themselves emotionally in another language. Whether it will ever see the light of day is questionable as we are now down on numbers: two of the pupils have now defected to the Street Dancing class. I may go the same way.

Pete Munday

Learning Latin at Helsby

This month our guest blog is by Amelia Pendlebury, one of the students learning Latin at Helsby High School.

Since autumn last year, myself and around ten of my fellow language enthusiasts have been attending weekly Latin classes after school, taught by the wonderful Hannah from Manchester University. We recently studied hard for and sat a small exam measuring our progress thus far, and it is quite astonishing how far we have all come; everybody was able to confidently answer most of the questions, with some of them being quite challenging, especially the unseen text translation!

Over the few weeks that we have been together, we have been studying using the Cambridge Latin Course Book 1 as a framework for structuring our learning. In addition, Hannah has been teaching us the relevant grammar in more detail alongside this and we reinforce the vocabulary and concepts by completing exercises in groups, which develop both teamwork skills and understanding of the language.

We are also encouraged to study outside of class to help us to review the work from past weeks. Many people have found the official Cambridge Latin Course website but also Memrise to be useful tools for committing the vocabulary and formidable grammar structures to memory.

I feel that we have all made incredible progress considering the short time that we have spent studying this course; we can all confidently understand the differences between the first three latin declensions, identify the nominative and accusative cases in the singular and plural for these declensions, recall and use a vocabulary of around 300 words whilst translating documents, look up unknown words by using our knowledge of declensions, and identify the differences between the present and past tense of verbs but also the distinction between the perfective and imperfective aspects of the past tense. This is astounding and much of this is down to the dedication from our teacher, Hannah – she has been wonderful and we are extremely lucky to have her expert tution as we continue to work towards the ultimate goal of a GCSE in Latin.

Amelia Pendlebury 11MMA

Welcome to Manchester Classics for All

Manchester Classics for All began as a pipe-dream and a series of informal discussions between colleagues at the department of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Manchester and the Manchester branch of the Classical Association. Over a year on, thanks to the kind support of the charity Classics for All, the project is running Latin classes and clubs in 10 schools across the North West, with many more expressing interest in being involved.

The benefits to learning classical languages and getting exposed to the culture and literature of Greece and Rome are immense, yet not everyone is lucky enough to have access to Classics and Latin in school. First and foremost, we believe Classics and Latin is and should be fun at whatever level it is learnt. Manchester Classics for All aims to get Classics and Latin into schools where there is currently no provision, at primary or secondary level, be it in the form of formal classes, after school clubs or enrichment events.

Since June 2015 we have been recruiting schools and tutors on to the scheme. Manchester Classics for All is not just about getting Latin and Classics into schools with no access: we are also keen to foster tutor development with the ultimate aim of establishing a PGCE in Classics in the North of England.

If you are interested in getting involved, either as a tutor or your school, then please do get in touch. We run regular training events throughout the year and have lots of different options for interested tutors. In the meantime, keep following the blog for new updates and developments with Manchester Classics for All.

We hope you will join us on this exciting journey.