Message from the Director of the Primary Latin Project, Jayne Treasure
I hope you are all well and looking forward to a return to some sort of normality before too long.
During the last six months, PLP has continued to work on the production of more free online resources, give grants, answer queries and support the work with CfA’s Networks. As I said last time, all credit to schools and their inspiring staff for moving forward with their plans for Latin in these challenging times.
Do have a look at the resources on the PLP website. The most recent additions are the Knowledge Organisers (Chapters 1 -3). There are also many resources on the Minimus website http://www.minimuslatin.co.uk/
There have continued to be many online opportunities for those who enjoy anything classical. I particularly enjoyed a talk by Professor Elizabeth Greene, hosted by the Vindolanda Trust, who took us on a wonderful tour of the Roman shoes found at the site, including one which Lepidina may have worn. You can sign up to receive the Vindolanda Newsletter by visiting: https://www.vindolanda.com/
If you missed it, you can listen to Professor Catharine Edwards, one of PLP’s trustees, talking about Marcus Aurelius on Radio 4’s In our Time: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000sjxt
I am looking forward to the British Museum’s exhibition ‘Nero: the man behind the myth’ which opens on May 27th 2021 https://www.britishmuseum.org/exhibitions/nero-man-behind-myth
Mythology Competition 2021: Just time to get your entries in: PLP Mythology Competition deadline 7th May! It’s the final week; get those boxes and boats competition-ready! All the details are here: https://www.primarylatinproject.org/mythology-competition
As always, thank you to all PLP committee members, trustees and trainers for your work and support. I hope you enjoy the range of reports below. Do get in touch if you have any news or questions – you can use the contact form on the website or my email. Thank you for your support.
Latin Plays in Bristol , Barbara Bell, PLP Honorary President
Minimus fabulas agit: In my experience, young children love acting. Only one pupil of mine was reluctant to have an acting part, so I asked him to be our narrator (which he did very well.) When he saw the fun which the other children had, he was keen to be involved next lesson. three years later he took a leading role in 'Minimus the Musical!'
Latin plays in Bristol – the background: As an endangered species, Classicists are brilliant at giving mutual support. This has been true throughout my (nearly) 50 years in the classroom, both informally and in a more formal way under the auspices of BACT (Bristol Association of Classical teachers) and the CA (Classical Association). Some years ago the two bodies merged and the CA continued to provide both scholarly lectures as well as more practical talks on GCSE and A level topics, taking groups abroad etc. And then there were the Latin and Greek Reading competitions, which metamorphosed into the Latin Play competition. This was run with great enthusiasm and efficiency, for many years, by Sally Knights of Redland High School. When Sally retired, we all felt it would be a great shame for the CA to die, so two of us agreed to ty to keep things going, with a lot of help from our wonderful Classics Department at Bristol University. We now have a committee of 7 and meet twice a year. It would be hard to find a more enthusiastic and supportive group - committee meetings are an absolute joy!
We have three main talks per year, one per term, plus a book group (very popular during lockdown) and the Latin Play competition. It seems to be a format which works and we regularly attract 75-100 people to the main talks. Even when we are all staring at screens the numbers are high. Dr Emily Hauser from Exeter spoke recently, by Zoom, on ‘Women in the Trojan War’ and 142 signed up from all over the world.
Those of us who knew about the play competition were equally keen to keep that going; I thought we might also incorporate junior plays for those studying Minimus. We began in 2018 with the two levels and, although initially small, our competition is growing and in both years we have had a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon. I offer the following notes on how we run things and would urge you to consider doing something in your area.
1. When? Late June works well for us. Exams are over and the Latin plays help to keep pupils focussed.
2. Where? Bristol Grammar School has kindly welcomed us to their new theatre. It is a great experience for our youngest pupils (aged 9) to perform in such an impressive venue.
3. Latin or English? Plays must be in Latin.
4. Length? No play must exceed 5 minutes.
5.What to perform?
a) There are three specific Minimus dialogues on the Minimus website – Leftovers, Rufus is lost in the Baths and Shopping in York. http://www.minimuslatin.co.uk/resource-collection.html
b) Pupils can write their own play.
c) Highly recommended as a source are two books by Diana Sparkes ‘Playtime’ (£10) and ‘Playtime Extra’. (£12 ). Each book is A4 spiral bound, with the Latin on the left-hand page and a translation opposite; it also comes with a CD to help with correct pronunciation of the Latin! They contain well known fairy tales e.g. Three Little pigs, Cinderella. For more details and to order contact Diana directly. Email : email@example.com
6. Help with Latin? Writing in Latin is demanding, especially for some of our teachers who are not specialists themselves. The organisers are willing to check the Latin and offer suggestions. Plays must be sent well in advance.
7. Help with pronunciation ? Each year our judges give some general advice on the sound of Latin. The organisers are willing to give advice in advance. There is also advice on the sound of Latin on the Minimus website. Whilst it is good to make the sound of the Latin as accurate as possible, the performers are young children so we must ensure that they are encouraged and have a good time!
8. Aims of the competition.
a) Pupils should aim to convey the meaning of the Latin as clearly as possible.
b) They should be fluent and well-prepared.
c) They should have a fun experience!
9. How to convey meaning? As part of the play pupils are encouraged to use costumes, props, music and dance if they wish. To see nine year olds performing Latin with confidence and obvious enjoyment and to see their delight if they win a prize, makes for a very satisfying event.
10. Costs? Bristol Grammar School is very generous in allowing us to use their splendid facilities at no cost.
a) Two Judges. Travel expenses and a book token or equivalent.
b) Refreshments for performers, staff and judges
c) Prizes: we receive generous help from the National CA. We award 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes in the form of cheques for the schools. Teachers then use this money to supplement their props and costumes, to buy Classical books e.g. Books of myths. We encourage the judges to award joint prizes if appropriate and special commendations. The University supports this event and Prof. Genevieve Lively has designed special certificates which are presented along with the cheques.
A competition in a pandemic?
In 2020 the competition was cancelled. We were reluctant to do that again this year. So for 2021, pupils will film their performances and a small group of judges and members of the committee will meet at Bristol Grammar School to watch the performances. Schools will also be able to watch other competitors perform.
Judges will make their decisions and will then talk about each play, just as they would if everyone was actually present in the theatre. Schools have reacted to this technical format with enthusiasm and so far we anticipate a total of 15 plays.
The best aspect (among many) is for pupils, staff and organisers to see so many people enjoying Latin. This is so important for the future of our subject.
How we launched Latin at St Andrew’s
This report from Jon Robinson of St Andrew’s CE Primary, Maghull, Liverpool shows what can
be achieved with the help of PLP and CfA.
Well over a year ago now, our school decided to pursue the route of introducing Latin into our Curriculum for KS2 children. We had spent the last 6 -7 years teaching Spanish as our MFL, with varying degrees of success, and felt that the time was right for a change, as our ‘feeder’ High Schools all taught different MFLs in Years 7-10. We also felt that Latin would give our children a grounding in all of the Romance languages that the children could possibly move on to learn, and also, through learning Latin, the children would gain a deeper understanding of grammar and a broader vocabulary through investigating Latin root words used in English. With this in mind, we contacted ‘Classics for All’ who put us in touch with the ‘Primary Latin Project’. Through this, we were able to apply for funding for Latin training and resources – both organisations have been absolutely invaluable to us, providing support, advice and a huge amount of expertise. Armed with this, we were ready to go….then COVID struck!
To cut a long stop..start…lockdown…out of lockdown…story short, it was not until January 2021 that we were able to take up the opportunity to train our staff. Of course, by then, children were at home, learning remotely: we wanted a dramatic start to Latin in school so we waited until after the Easter break to launch.
What a launch! On Friday 17th April, we had our Roman Day. Our whole school family arrived at school that day dressed as centurions, legionaries, senators and emperors. School was suddenly a Primary School again with COVID-induced anxieties far from mind. At the school gate, parents commented, “It feels like school again now,” and “They’re so excited to be dressing up.” Families posted tweets of the children getting ready that morning and the buzz was palpable.
We started the day with an Assembly for each Key phase, led by our Latin Lead. The children were shown artefacts from Roman times and were given some basic information about Rome. Each assembly began with learning, ‘Salve’ and ‘Salvete’ – one child pointed out that it sounds like ‘salute’ – and ‘Vale’ and ‘Valete’. The children were told that they were a Roman cohort for the day and would be inspected that afternoon by Maxima Kerwina and Optima Dwana (our Head and Deputy) As part of their inspection, they would be looking for Latin songs, Latin greetings and commands, a class motto and some evidence of new understanding. All classes went to town with this: our school song in Latin; Happy Birthday in Latin, Roman marching commands; Roman honey cake; building an aqueduct; letters from Vindolanda; roman numeral maths; diary entries from Vindolanda and more. Twitter was rocking by home time!
A week later, we have now all taught our first Latin language lessons using the Minimus scheme. The children have loved it. They are still talking about our Roman Day. They already know some basic Latin words and phrases and were hugely receptive to the language. Staff greet each other with ‘Salve’ and every class has a Latin motto and the starts of a Latin display up. The time and effort we invested in our day has been so worth it. Our journey has only really started but, because of the whole school day we had, it feels like we’re off to a flyer.
Training News: Sue Balmer
I have struggled to continue with training during the pandemic but am pleased with news of progress from schools already delivering Latin with Minimus. They report that their pupils continue to enjoy the stories and activities and are particularly pleased to hear about the new Progress Checks.
It has been disappointing that we have not been able to promote Minimus as we usually do to members of the Association for Language Learning because their annual conference, Language World, was forced to take place online. Nevertheless, Ofsted’s Lead Inspector for languages, Dr Michael Wardle, gave a keynote address in which he repeated his praise for the teaching of Latin in primary schools. He mentioned the good understanding shown by the pupils, their progress and ability to manipulate the language. MFL teachers wanting to find out more about Latin have continued to use the Facebook groups, Secondary MFL Matters, Languages in Primary Schools (LIPS) and Salvete LIPS.
One of the most gratifying developments this year has been the sharing of resources and ideas between schools and the growing love of the Latin language among many of the teachers who are enjoying Minimus as much as their pupils. Following training at the beginning of 2020, St Catherine’s C of E Primary in Bolton has started teaching Latin with Minimus. All teachers have been trained and have attended 2 x 2 hour twilight sessions via Zoom in November 2020. During lockdown, the Headteacher, Mrs Karen Graham, created knowledge organisers for the first 3 chapters. She kindly agreed to share these with other schools and they are available on the Primary Latin Project website. Schools have found them useful and would like organisers for the rest of the chapters in Minimus Book 1.
Although it has been impossible to visit schools for face to face training, Zoom has helped to keep the programme of training going. Full days of Zoom are extremely challenging for trainer and teachers, but we managed with frequent breaks and activities. Training for 20 members of staff from Dixons Manningham Primary School in Bradford was for a full day, just before Christmas on December 21st. The teachers appreciate the fact that the training can be recorded and sent to them following the sessions, especially if they are worried about pronunciation or if a member of staff is absent.
Training for 17 members of staff at St Andrew’s School, Maghull, Liverpool, went ahead on January 4th2021. This was another full day of Zoom training to support the school in offering Latin to their pupils as the core KS2 language. Coordinator, Jon Robinson and the staff plan to organise a Roman Day as part of their launch into Latin.
Polam Hall School in Darlington have been teaching Latin across KS2 since 2019 and have also organised a Roman Day, which they celebrated on Twitter:
Some schools have chosen shorter sessions to fit in with their increased workload. On 5th February 2021 16 staff members at Poplar Street Primary School in Tameside completed 3 hours training to enable them to move from Maximum Classics to Minimus for Latin across KS2. Early years and KS1 teachers joined the training and were interested to see how they might prepare their pupils for KS2 Latin by introducing them to the family from Vindolanda.
Some sessions are even shorter. Training for St Anne’s RC Primary School in Manchester was originally scheduled for March 2020. We finally managed to find time for a 2 hour training slot on 24 February 2021. I have found that short training sessions like this need a lot more thought and preparation of pre-session activities. Mentoring and support following the training is also crucial for teacher confidence.
To help teachers of primary Latin to meet each other for updates and sharing of ideas, Classics for All North organised a Primary CPD session. Within the programme there was a chance to get teachers of Minimus together in a breakout room.
On their websites, many primary schools do not mention the fact that they teach Latin in KS2. They make no attempt to explain their rationale for teaching Latin but there are examples of good practice e.g., Ward Jackson Primary School in Hartlepool where coordinator, Jenni Petch, has made it clear why Latin has been chosen and how it is taught.
Prior to the CPD event, teachers were asked to request topics for discussion. This is what they chose, which may help trainers to address some of them.
I continue to act as a volunteer guide at Arbeia and have two tours scheduled, Covid regulations permitting. It is always moving to retell the story of Barates and Regina and can provide an opportunity to introduce people to Minimus.
General Information for grant applications: applications are considered by the trustees of PLP three times per year. The next deadline is June 15th, 2021. Grants are awarded to state schools and range from c. £50 - £250.
Grants can help support the purchase of the Minimus textbooks, Teachers’ Resource 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, we have had just one round of applications and the following schools have received grants: Long Knowle Primary School, Wolverhampton; St Anne's RC Primary School, Crumpsall, Manchester; St Walburga’s Catholic Primary School, Bournemouth; The Icknield Primary School, Sawston, Cambridgeshire.
The grant form is available on the PLP website. If you have any questions regarding PLP grants, please do not hesitate to contact me. My thanks to our trustees and Rachael Jones, PLP’s Administrator.
Catherine Stancil of Calvary Day School, Winston-Salem, North Carolina is a great supporter of Minimus.
Her 4th graders (nine and ten years of age) are working on Minimus Secundus, Chapter 11 and have built model cranes. She wondered if this is an idea other teachers might want to try. She found the plans for the cranes from a NASA website.
Dr Arlene Holmes-Henderson sent me these links to two blogs. Do have a look.
Classics for All update: Classics for All offers 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. For more information, just send a few details about your school and its classical interests to firstname.lastname@example.org
Jayne Treasure, PLP Director
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