Message from the Director of the Primary Latin Project: Jayne Treasure
I hope you are all well.
This morning I was reminded by my ‘phone that three years ago today I was in Rome.
The colosseum, Rome
The weather was wet and windy - much like today. Barbara celebrated a significant birthday in October and she and her family are currently in Greece where the weather looks glorious.
Barbara and her family at the Corinth Canal.
Since April, PLP has supported twenty schools by giving grants to help with the cost of purchasing the Minimus textbooks and vital resources and/or general books to start a classics library. We remain indebted to Classics for All for funding the training required by these schools and for all their support.
You will have seen an article about the Latin Plays in Bristol in the last Newsletter. I was lucky enough to be one of the judges this year. We had such an enjoyable afternoon watching all the plays on a large screen. The standard was incredibly high. Congratulations to all who took part. The winner in the Junior competition was Badminton Junior School, Bristol and the joint winners in the senior section were the Royal High School, Bath and St Mary’s Calne. My thanks to the Bristol CA and to Andy Keen and Bristol Grammar School for hosting the event.
The Mythology Competition 2021 was a record-breaking year, with 41 different school and independent entries, and 286 entries in total. You can see a report and the winning entries here:
As ever, we are indebted to the Jowett Trust for a generous grant to cover the costs of the competition, and to our judges, who, despite over a hundred more entries to manage between them, have been so enthusiastic about the competition and the students’ entries.
All details for the PLP Mythology Competition 2022 are here:
The myths are Echo and Narcissus (Key Stage 2) and the Birth of Athena (Key Stage 3) for 2022.
Do have a look at the resources on the PLP website. Anna Bell, the co-ordinator of CfA’s London and South East Classics network, has produced some excellent resources. There are also many resources on the Minimus website http://www.minimuslatin.co.uk/
I receive a number of emails asking about what is needed to teach Minimus. All the details are here: https://www.primarylatinproject.org/what-do-i-need-to-teach-minimus
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
As always, thank you to all PLP committee members, trustees and trainers for their 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.
A question I am often asked: Barbara Bell, PLP Honorary President
Why did you write ‘Minimus Secundus and why did you set it in York?’
I only ever intended to write one book. I envisaged a small, cartoon-style Latin book to help young children understand the main points of English grammar and to build their English vocabulary through word derivations. Minimus - Starting out in Latin was published in August 1999. Helped by a burst of national publicity - newspapers, radio and TV programmes - the word spread very quickly and it was well received. The publishers (Cambridge University Press) had printed 7,000 copies, which they imagined would be the sales in the first year. By Christmas 1999 it had sold 5,000 copies and at the end of the first year total sales were 14,000 - exactly double the anticipated figure.
Journalists often ask me why Minimus has been so successful. There are 2 main factors:
1. Helen Forte’s superb illustrations. People smile when they start looking at the book! Helen was brought up on a course called “Latin with Laughter” and I think it shows in her work. The pictures bring the stories alive. Children identify with this family and of course the pictures also act as aids to translation.
2. The book is based on a real family, who lived at Vindolanda at the beginning of the 2nd century AD. I am a great fan of the Cambridge Latin Course; when I have taken pupils to Pompeii, they are predictably impressed with the theatres, amphitheatre, baths, mosaics etc. but the icing on the cake for them is to be photographed outside Caecilius’ house. After all, they have studied this man and his family for about a year; now they can see where he lived. The same is true of Vindolanda , which is a very special Roman site. Imagine being able to see over 2,000 Roman shoes, including the sandals which Lepidina wore and a small children’s shoe worn by little Rufus. Imagine seeing Lepidina’s sewing needles, still in their leather case, or Rufus’ toy sword - just one of the remarkable finds made of wood. The wooden writing tablets are what make this site so famous.
My Advisory Panel were adamant that if the book was to stand a chance of getting into British schools, we had to set it in Roman Britain. Once we had made that major decision, it didn’t take long for us to settle on Vindolanda.
One year after publication, I was running an international project. One year later it was almost running me. I was naturally thrilled at the positive responses from all over the world, but I knew I needed help. A committee was formed and everyone on the committee took one area of Project work and made it his/her own.
By 2002 some of the first Minimus classes had completed the first book and were asking for more. Children wrote to me ‘Please, please write more stories. We want to know more about this family’. My school agreed to my request for a sabbatical and my Advisory Panel was chosen. Now for Book 2!
Where to set the book? We would love to know exactly what Flavius and the family did when they left Vindolanda. Flavius commanded the 9th cohort of Batavians at Vindolanda for an unusual double posting - for 6 years, from approximately 99 - 105AD. Then we hear nothing of how they left or where they went next. We do hear of these soldiers assisting Trajan in his 2nd Dacian War (Dacia = modern Romania). We wanted to keep the setting in Roman Britain. It is conceivable that Flavius next took a civilian post and we know that everyone wanted to be involved in the creation of the stone headquarters’ building in Eboracum (York). So I have imagined that the family moved there after their period in Vindolanda. I have also imagined the family 5 years later. This made many stories possible. Flavia is now 21 and would certainly be married - which she is and she is pregnant. The children who tested the early material were very excited by this discovery: ‘We have given our teacher loads of chocolate but she still won’t tell us if she has a boy or a girl!’ Iulius is now 18, so old enough to join the Roman Army. Rufus is now 8, so it is high time for him to be learning Greek - so he does, taught by a Greek teacher who happened to be living in Eboracum at this period - Demetrius Scribonius. As with the first book, the stories are based on genuine artefacts and on information contained in the famous Vindolanda writing tablets. This historical basis for both books is extremely important and there should be many classroom discussions about the importance of examining the relevant evidence.
York is a splendid Roman city but many of the objects in the York Gardens Museum are of the wrong period - such as the famous Whitby jet jewellery. I was very fortunate to have the help and support of the Director of the museum, Elizabeth Hartley, who came round the museum with me, pointing out artefacts of the right period. The research for this 2nd book took me to many new areas of Latin - Roman gynaecology, British hunting dogs, Trajan’s 2nd Dacian war - which were absorbing and fascinating.
Training News: Sue Balmer
In the last update in April 2021, I mentioned Polam Hall School in Darlington. This school started teaching Latin in KS2 in 2019. They introduce songs and stories in KS1 and have recently experienced an Ofsted deep dive in languages. The children spoke highly of Latin during the inspection, so let us hope that they get a good report. In Polam Hall, as in other schools, there has been disruption because of Covid but in April, the school organised a Roman Day and the local press published an article. See it at:
I always encourage schools to celebrate their Latin news in the media because most people think that Latin and Classical subjects are not taught in our primary schools. It is a chance, along with information on school websites, to explain the rationale behind their inclusion in the curriculum, which may encourage other schools to make the leap.
Polam Hall has made great strides, but with staff changes they need ongoing support, as do others. I have realised that we must keep in regular touch with the schools we trained to give them updates, added resources and to praise them for their efforts. I am in the process of arranging further refresher training and will monitor progress. We need to create networks of schools so that they can contact each other and share ideas. This is difficult in some areas where there are very few primary schools offering Latin but there is no reason why we cannot bring schools together virtually now that we are so used to the technology.
Thanks to Alice Case, there is a growing number of schools teaching Latin in the northwest. They are forming a small network and will be encouraged to make contact and share ideas and resources. Even if we cannot organise face to face teachmeets, we could meet online.
In the northeast we are still finding it exceedingly difficult to get Latin into the primary schools, even though it is Minimus’s home and we have wonderful sites for school visits. I have continued with my tours of Arbeia, where I tell the story of Regina and Barates. The site opens in the Spring and is free to visit. When it closes at the end of September, schools can still arrange visits. One of the learning officers caught Covid as the fort closed for the winter and I had the opportunity to take her place as a guide for school groups. I took Minimus and Vibrissa with me and integrated Latin into the tour. The children enjoyed it so I gave the accompanying teachers information about funded training through Classics for All. There will be school visits to Roman sites throughout the country. I thought that it might be a good idea to have flyers available for teachers and Alice Case kindly had some printed for display in the forts along Hadrian’s Wall.
In an effort to entice primary teachers in the northeast to consider offering Latin and other classical subjects, Alice, Dr Stephanie Holton from Newcastle University and I advertised twilight CPD entitled “Exploring Word Roots”. On June 10th, teachers from 12 schools in Newcastle and the surrounding area participated in a Zoom session which included an introduction to Minimus. In July and September some schools booked similar CPD for their staff. I hope that more will decide to add training in the Autumn term.
On September 15th I was pleased to be able to train staff from Newby Primary School in the centre of Bradford as they plan to replace their KS2 modern language with Latin. They have a high proportion of EAL pupils. Their aim is to use Latin to improve English literacy for all pupils and think that it could be extremely beneficial for the EAL pupils.
In September and October, I delivered two twilight update sessions with Christ Church C of E Primary School in Sefton. There was a new coordinator for Latin and other staff had not been present at the original training and were not confident. A welcome grant for extra textbooks came from the Primary Latin Project and the teachers are grateful for the extra funding.
Redgate School in Formby will be added to the network in the northwest when I deliver their initial Minimus training in November. Once again, it will be face to face training for a full day as we seem to be getting back to a normal pattern. They are also planning to deliver Latin as their main KS2 language.
It is a year since I trained Dixons Manningham Primary School in Bradford. Last December, 20 members of staff managed a full day of Zoom training, which was exhausting. It will be interesting to see what progress they have made when I meet them again for a twilight update session at the end of November.
General Information for grant applications: applications are considered by the trustees of PLP three times per year. The next deadline is February 15th, 2022. 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, the following schools have received grants:
Lamberhurst St Mary’s, Kent; Moortown Primary School, Leeds; Newby Primary School, Bradford; Pensans Primary School, Cornwall; Queens CE Academy, Nuneaton; St. Anne Line Catholic Junior School, Essex; St Hugh of Lincoln Catholic Primary School, Woking, Surrey; St James’ CE Primary School, Wetherby; Scholes (Elmet) Primary School, Leeds; Woodlea Primary School, Surrey.
Ten more schools should receive their grants within the next two weeks. Details will be in the next Newsletter. 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.
New Resources: Anna Bell
Free Minimus PowerPoint Presentations and a Scheme of Work, available for teachers to download and use, and adapt if necessary. To access these resources, go to https://www.cfasoutheast.org/resources - you will be asked to fill in a short form; this will take you to the password page, which will allow you to access the resources. This link is also on the PLP website.
Updates: Dr Arlene Holmes-Henderson
With Katrina Kelly, I wrote an article on ‘Ancient and Modern languages in primary schools’ (https://www.humanities.ox.ac.uk/article/ancient-and-modern-languages-in-primary-schools#/), whichme ntions the Primary Latin Project.
With Katrina Kelly, I established a new podcast series, ‘Regional Classics’ which highlights the experiences of Classicists from areas traditionally under-represented in the Classics community (https://www.podcasts.ox.ac.uk/series/regional-classics)
I have recorded a number of radio shows and videos about teaching Latin in primary schools, the role of Classics in the curriculum and the intersection of Classics, critical skills and oracy: https://teacherstalkradio.podbean.com/e/teachers-talk-radio-extra-the-freya-odell-show-06-09-21/, https://www.marymyatt.com/myatt-co, and https://languageacts.org/conferences/languages-future/programme/.
Teachers interested in sharing their experiences at the CA conference can watch the recording of an event I ran via the Classical Association ‘Preparing for your first Classical Association conference as a teacher.’ The event included input from current teachers, and conference organisers: https://classicalassociation.org/for-teachers/preparing-for-your-first-ca-conference-as-a-teacher/
I spoke about Collaboration in UK Classic s at a University of Reading seminar series. The video is available on youtube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcoDqKhcS04
I spoke at the Inclusive Classics II conference about knowledge exchange. Summary here: http://blogs.reading.ac.uk/classics-at-reading/2021/09/13/report-on-towards-a-more-inclusive-classics-ii-international-workshop-organised-by-professor-barbara-goff-and-dr-alexia-petsalis-diomidis/
In April 2020, I gave a talk for Cambridgeshire headteachers about teaching Latin in primary schools.
There’s a lot going on in Bath:
The Roman Gym is now open!
Step into the Roman Gym where you will journey back in time and walk amongst newly excavated remains, never-before seen by the public. Explore the area where ancient visitors worked out to keep fit and healthy prior to heading into the Baths themselves. You'll also have the chance to view a laconicum, the remains of an ancient sauna. This new area is part of the Roman Baths visit and is included in museum entry. Tickets must be booked online in advance.
Roman Gym, Roman Baths; Photographer: Anna Barclay
Myths and Monsters
Calling all monster hunters! We are so excited to be introducing you to the world of Myths and Monsters. In our special exhibition you will see monsters from the stories you know and love. We have monsters big and small, creatures of myths and legends and some creatures created especially for you.
From the pages of some of the best-selling books and stories told from one generation to the next, we are delighted to bring these illustrations to the gallery walls. From: The Gruffalo to The Iron Man and Unicorns to King Arthur, there is genuinely something for all ages. Myths that you have grown up with and hopefully a few monsters that you are still to meet.
Helen Forte has been really busy on Twitter in October. As always, her illustrations are wonderful. #inktober #ClassicsTober
Inktober in Latin with Minimus
Rima = Leak
εδαιμονια Cheese = happiness, according to Minimus
Finally, keep an eye on the Vindolanda website for news of forthcoming events. February 2022 is going to be fun: https://www.vindolanda.com/
Jayne Treasure, PLP Director
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