Oxford University has received government backing for a project to support the teaching of Classics in state schools.
Chris Pelling, Regius Professor of Greek in the Faculty of Classics, will lead a project in collaboration with universities including Cambridge to support professional development for non-specialist teachers of Classics. Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education, announced the project this week.
Professor Pelling said: 'There is so much terrific work being done in state schools to make Latin available to those who want to study it – and quite a lot of young people do. I am a state school product myself, and I only wish that more could have the opportunities that I enjoyed myself: this will do something to help, and we are most grateful to the Department of Education for making it possible. It is a collaborative project, and I hope it will involve many other universities as well as Oxford and Cambridge.'
Classics has become an increasingly popular subject in the state sector over the last decade, with the number of secondary schools offering Latin rising from 550 ten years ago to 1068 today. More state schools than independent currently offer Latin. But the number of specialist Latin teachers leaving the profession, usually through retirement, is greater than the number being trained.
'We have deep admiration for the dedication and commitment of those teachers, often from a specialist background in History, Modern Languages, or English, who have done so much to promote Latin in their schools, and we are delighted to give what help we can,' said Professor Pelling.
The project will be a collaboration with other universities, in particular the Cambridge Schools Classics Project. It will host a series of training courses, in which long-serving teachers will share their knowledge and techniques, and those who have successfully started Latin in their schools will pool their experiences and give advice to those who wish to follow suit.
The project will also produce high-quality video documentaries on particular topics for GCSE and A-level. These will enable all students in the country to benefit from the insights of leading academics. A further aim is to develop materials on classical story-telling, especially stories from Homer and Ovid, for use in the English curriculum at Key Stage 3.