Message from the Director of the Primary Latin Project
More than ever, I hope this Newsletter finds you well. I do not think any of us thought that we would welcome the Spring of 2020 in this manner.
We are delighted to welcome Dr Paul Roberts as a new PLP patron. Dr Roberts is the Sackler Keeper of the Department of Antiquities at the Ashmolean Museum and curator of the recent Last Supper in Pompeii exhibition. I am sure many of you visited the exhibition; you can see related videos by clicking on the link.
Jane Maguire, a long-standing PLP trustee and committee member, has decided to step down from these roles. Jane has done an enormous amount of work to promote Classics, particularly in Norfolk, and has trained countless people to teach Minimus, not just in this country but also in Australia. I am delighted that she will remain as one of our Minimus Trainers. On behalf of everyone at PLP, I thank her for all that she has done and continues to do.
Sales of Minimus: Starting out in Latin have passed 176000. Workbook 1 (which is a cunningly disguised grammar book to support Minimus: Starting out in Latin) is now available as a free, downloadable resource on the PLP website.
We had planned to hold a Minimus Day on 6th June 2020 in Birmingham University but, as with every other event, this will have to be put on hold.
Primary Latin Project Mythology Competition 2020: This year's myths are Daedulus and Icarus and Heracles and the Hydra. Entries have started arriving but there is still time. A great way to keep children busy during April. All the myths are available on the website – told by the wonderful Daniel Morden and Hugh Lupton.
The deadline for entries is 1st May 2020
Classics for All update: During these difficult times, Classics for All is still offering free support to any schools wishing to train to introduce Latin via Minimus or any other classical subject on the primary or secondary schools’ curriculum. Training can be offered online or face to face later in the year when schools are re-opened. For more information, just send a few details about your school and its classical interests to firstname.lastname@example.org
Many of our trainers have been very busy, not just with training but also teaching. Catherine Jarvis has been teaching Minimus in a weekly lunchtime club in Hexham Middle School – and will resume post-Corona. Linda Soames has started teaching her great nephews Minimus via Zoom. This has inspired me to contact my village primary to offer their pupils a chance to learn some Latin via online lessons during the summer term. Arlene Holmes-Henderson wrote an article about primary Latin which may be of interest to PLP members: White, B. and Holmes-Henderson, A. (2019) ‘Latin Lovers’, Blueprint, Trinity Term 2019, 7. Arlene is also very busy promoting Classics. She gave the keynote at TM English Icons, a free conference for English teachers hosted by the TES at their global HQ in Sheffield on 1st February 2020. Her topic was ‘Classical connections: enriching English teaching with help from the Greeks and Romans’. She featured the Minimus course, as well as other Latin and Classics courses, and the 100+ English teachers were enthused to diversify the Classical elements of their courses. Click on the link for a list of her upcoming talks (subject to change given the coronavirus outbreak).
If any teachers of Minimus have extra resources that we could share online, please contact me.
Report from PLP’s Honorary President
To all Minimus Supporters
I am writing this as the coronavirus approaches what we think is its peak in the UK. I expect for you, as for us, the worst thing is not being able to meet family and friends during this period. Thank goodness we are able to contact them via various methods of technology. I find I am in touch with people whom I haven't spoken to for a long time and that is surely one of the many plusses about the enforced period of lockdown.
I am pleased to have this opportunity to send my greetings to all of you who have been part of the Minimus story. I have been so fortunate in working with my superb illustrator, Helen Forte, and to have got to know her family; to have been supported by 2 advisory panels and an excellent PLP committee; to have visited the USA 7 times, Germany on 4 occasions, Turin, Copenhagen, and many parts of the British Isles. Much of the writing has been done in Italy, in particular on the sun terrace of the Hotel Del Mar in Sorrento. How many wonderful memories! I have met thousands of inspirational teachers, who have found inventive ways to get Latin into their schools, both on and off the curriculum. The whole project has been supported by our generous sponsors and has attracted much exciting publicity, both locally and nationally.
The world changed for me and my very supportive family on 3rd May 2000 when Minimus hit the front page of the Daily Telegraph: ‘Minimus the mouse starts a craze for Latin.’ The
ensuing intense interest led to the development of the ‘Granny Latin’ scheme - and some of those ‘Grannies’ are still teaching Minimus clubs! Amazing.
This last week I have been in touch with the Minimus patrons - Lindsey Davies, Stephen Harrison, Bettany Hughes, Peter Jones, Paul Roberts and Sir Tom Stoppard - to postpone a party planned for September; this was to celebrate sales of 175,000 copies of the first Minimus book. We will put the bubbly on ice until 2021! I was pleased to tell them about another resurgence of interest in Minimus among the home-schooling community which, of course, has expanded rapidly now all our children are being home-educated. One enterprising grandmother, living in France, is teaching Latin to her grandchildren who live in London, using modern technology. As Paul Roberts said to me ‘Silver lining - the kids wanting to learn Latin during all this - marvellous!’
A huge thank-you to every one of you for being part of this wonderful story.
Thanks to archaeology, we now know that Vesuvius did not erupt on 24th August AD79 - it must have been in October that year. But on 24th August 1999 Minimus DID erupt onto the world of Latin! So the mouse comes of age this summer. On 24th August I invite you to join me in a glass of something to celebrate its publication and all that you have achieved. gratulationes! Keep safe and do keep in touch!
With deep gratitude,
Minimus Weekend at Vindolanda, March 14th – 15th 2020
The second Minimus weekend was held just before we all had to stay at home. Helen Forte and Catherine Jarvis manned the fort, as it were, this year.
Minimus and Minima were also busy.
News of Minimus in the North
Minimus activity in the north has been steady but it is still challenging to make inroads into an area with the lowest number of pupils in the UK with access to the Classics. Ways in which I have tried to raise the profile of Latin and the place of ancient languages in the KS2 curriculum has been through speaking at conferences in the north. Although Minimus has been with us for so many years, delegates still arrive at sessions unaware of the programmes of study and the existence of a course which fits perfectly into KS2 studies, across the disciplines.
Teachers trained in Modern Foreign Languages are among the most accomplished teachers of Primary Latin, so it is useful to offer a workshop or presentation at events organised by the Association for Language Learning (ALL). I was invited to deliver a session at Language World, ALL’s annual conference in March 2020. The session was entitled “Unlock the curriculum with Latin” with the following synopsis:
‘The Romans enthral, so why not teach their language? Latin encourages a deep understanding of grammar for accurate translation and spoken communication. It can enrich in all key stages for all abilities. It can be woven into the existing curriculum to minimise the vocabulary gap and maximise exposure to language. As the root of many, it complements others. Funded training and a growing array of innovative resources equip non-specialists with the confidence to teach it.’
In the north, ALL organises an event each November in York. ALL organises other Primary and Secondary events throughout the country and it is often possible to take part as a speaker for increased impact.
One of the most important and enjoyable parts of Minimus training is to continue to mentor the staff in a school in which the children have started learning Latin and to hear about progress. 17 members of staff at Polam Hall School, in Darlington, attended Minimus training and started to teach Latin across KS1 and KS2 from September. Latin has replaced French as their core language.
The Principal of Polam Hall reports that: ‘Latin is going well in Juniors. The kids are really enjoying it - I did a learning walk last week and had lots of children telling me about the characters and about masculine and feminine endings... We're waiting a bit for the next lot of training - because staff felt that they wanted to get some real teaching of Minimus under their belts before they had more training so that they knew which questions to ask.’
At Ward Jackson School in Hartlepool, they have also decided to make Latin their core KS2 language. It is a small, family school in the centre of Hartlepool, an area of deprivation and low literacy. They started Latin in September and staff report that the children are enjoying learning the language. The KS2 language coordinator, says:
‘We have made a great start with Latin, particularly in Years 3 and 5. I will be updating the website this afternoon and putting up a display. The feedback from teachers so far has been positive. As a Year 6 teacher, I can see children using the skills they have learnt in Latin to help them find the meaning of unfamiliar words, which is great.’
Being invited to cross the country and deliver training in the northwest is always a pleasure and Classics for All North is working hard to join up training opportunities across the north. In September, another school decided to exchange their KS2 language for Latin. In Christ Church C of E Primary School in Bootle, 7 teachers including the Headteacher were trained. Teachers started teaching Minimus in September 2019.
The following week, I delivered extra training to 9 teachers at All Saints Primary School, Upton. Minimus was already being used to teach Latin across KS2. Most members of staff had attended Minimus training 2 years ago but not all staff were confident. The Headteacher was pleased with the session: ‘The staff are really enthused. I was watching Year 3 playing Latin Simon Says this morning after only just starting and they were brilliant! I’m on a mission to get all the KS2 children greeting me in Latin each day as I go around the school. So far Year 5 are the best . . . it would be great if we can get them greeting Ofsted inspectors too!’
In October 2019, Alice Case, Classics for All network coordinator in Liverpool, arranged our usual twilight sessions at Liverpool Hope University. In December 2019 and February 2020, Dr Maria Haley, network coordinator for Manchester and Leeds, organised events in both universities to which she invited teachers interested in finding out more about resources and training for ancient languages and Classics in primary schools. At both venues, I was able to deliver a Minimus training session. Staff from some schools represented had already requested training and I have confidence that others will follow.
Leading on from the information sessions in Manchester and Leeds and contact with schools in the north, training for the staff of St Anne’s RC Primary School in Manchester was scheduled for March 19th but has had to be postponed. Funding has been agreed by Classics for All for training for staff at Dixons Manningham Primary School in Bradford. Both these schools are planning to introduce Latin across KS2 within the curriculum.
The Durham network for Classics for All is in its infancy but is working to increase opportunities for schools in the northeast. Work is mainly focused on secondary schools e.g. Durham Johnston School, where Latin is taught and where the Minimus course is highly valued.
I continue to act as a volunteer guide at Arbeia (or plan to do tours when sites reopen). Like Vindolanda, Arbeia links so well to the Minimus course. The museum contains Regina’s tombstone with Barates’ inscription. Reconstructions help young learners to imagine the life of real inhabitants featuring in the books.
This is Regina’s tombstone (with a couple of friends) taken during a candlelight tour at Arbeia in December.
What do I need to teach Minimus ?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions. Barbara Bell has written this guidance (which is also on the PLP website).
There are many Minimus products. If you are new to this Latin course it is sometimes difficult to ascertain which are the essential items, and which are useful extras. I hope the following will clarify:
Essential items for the Minimus course
1. The textbook for pupils: Minimus – Starting out in Latin (ISBN 0-521-65960-4) Designed for ages 7-10.
2.The accompanying Teacher’s Resource Book (ISBN 978-0-521-65961 -1) This translates all the Latin; gives useful background historical information about Vindolanda and the family who are the central characters in the book; provides answers to all quizzes; has cross-curricular teaching suggestions; has 35 photocopiable worksheets.
3. If you worried about Latin pronunciation, there is a CD of Minimus - Starting out in Latin (ISBN 978-0-521-68146-9). The picture stories are all recorded. Very helpful for the sound of Latin, especially for non-specialists.
You may then choose to move on to the sequel:
4. The textbook for pupils: Minimus - Moving on in Latin (ISBN 978-0-521-75545-0) Designed for ages 10-13.
5. The accompanying Teacher’s Resource Book (ISBN 0 -521-75546 -8) This has the same help as for Book 1, with 46 worksheets.
6. Minimus - Moving on in Latin – CD (ISBN 978-0-521-68147-6)
NB These 6 items are all published by Cambridge University Press. They can be ordered from any bookshop.
PLP recommends the Hellenic Bookservice (20% off Minimus books plus free postage over £75 for schools working with PLP).
Useful Extras (available from Minimus Et Cetera)
1. Both textbooks have an accompanying Pupil’s Workbook. Each workbook provides 2 pages of grammar practice for each chapter of the book, so 24 pages in all. Pupils can write in these and there is space for their own drawings. There are various types of exercise and they provide valuable proof of progress for Ofsted inspections. Pupils love them! NB As well as being for sale as a hard copy, this is now a free, downloadable resource on the PLP website.
Notes for teachers are provided.
2. Three sets of Minibooks. These are extra readers - simple, short stories in Latin with Helen Forte’s lovely illustrations. There are 10 Minibooks in each set (A5 size). They can be used when a pupil finishes a set task quickly, as subjects for drama or as special prizes for competitions.
Set 1 is designed for Minimus Book 1
Set 3 is designed for Minimus Book 2
Set 2 can be used with either textbook. Each set of Minibooks becomes slightly more demanding, with longer sentences and wider vocabulary.
Translation sheets are provided.
3. Minimus in Practice: The first two thirds of this book contain cross-curricular ideas for teaching Minimus, based on each of the subjects in the Primary (Elementary) curriculum. It is a book to dip into for ideas on delivering subjects for which you are responsible and/or are your passion.
The last third of the book contains several quizzes, as well as ideas for using Minimus on special days throughout the calendar.
4. Minimusculus: A simple, colourful introduction to the world of Minimus for our youngest children - approx. aged 3-6. It is mostly in English but teaches some Latin greetings and numbers. Children meet the characters in the Minimus textbook and learn about the fascinating site of Vindolanda. Notes and some Latin songs are provided for adults
5. Minimus becoming Maximus - the first 20 years: The story of the development of Minimus from its inception.
Other Extras: We currently sell sheets of incentive stickers; Minimus pencils, badges, bookmarks, erasers, postcards, notelets, keyrings, rulers and fridge magnets.
We send these items all over the world. You can pay in your own currency using PayPal.
Foreign Editions: The main textbooks are also available in Italian, Slovenian and Brazilian Portuguese.
For any further queries about Minimus Et Cetera, please contact us by email at:
General Information for grant applications: applications are considered by the trustees of PLP three times per year. The next deadline is 15th June 2020. Grants are awarded to state schools and range from c. £50 - £250.
Grants can help support the purchase of Minimus textbooks, Teachers’ Books and CDs, plus dictionaries etc.. Please note that grants are not awarded for items on sale at Minimus Et Cetera.
Since the last Newsletter, I am delighted to report that eleven schools have received PLP grants. They are: Beam Primary School, Essex; Bletchingley Village Primary School, Surrey; Boston Pioneers Academy, Lincolnshire; Bury C of E Primary School, West Sussex; Fishtoft Academy, Boston, Lincolnshire; Hayes Park School, Middlesex; Hillmead Primary School, Hertfordshire; Medway Community School, Leicester; St Catherine’s C of E Primary School, Bolton; Seer Green C of E School, Buckinghamshire; The Marist Catholic Primary School, Surrey.
My thanks to PLP’s administrator, Rachael Jones, for her invaluable help. The grant form is available on the PLP website. If you have any questions regarding grants, please do not hesitate to contact me.
We are very pleased to be able to help schools and it is good to hear how Latin is extending the pupils’ learning:
Headteacher, St. Peter's Junior School, Wisbech:
The children were fascinated by the new language and in our school with 39% EAL (mostly Eastern European), it has been interesting to watch them grasp the similarities with some of the vocabulary…… When the discussion led to why Latin is so familiar in our languages, some children were able to comment on their own prior History knowledge and talk about the Roman Empire spreading right across Europe.
St Peter’s Latin display board
Headteacher / FL Co-ordinator, St Luke’s C.E. Primary School, Kingston upon Thame:
‘St Luke’s introduced Latin as our foreign language in September 2019 and it continues to have a huge impact on our children and staff.
Our aim for learning Latin is to embed the skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing necessary to enable children to use and apply their Latin learning in a variety of contexts and lay the foundations for future language learning.
Teaching staff and parents have been very impressed with the impact of learning Latin in the school.
Below are a few comments from children about learning Latin:
I like Latin because it makes learning other languages easier;
· I like Latin because we come across Latin in everyday life;
· I like Latin because I find it quite challenging;
· I like Latin because you find out the origins of words.
You can still listen to Helen Forte’s Coffee & Circuses podcast with Dr David Walsh.
With many thanks for your support,
Jayne Treasure, PLP Director
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