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Bid to reintroduce Classics subjects into schools in Scotland

Bid to reintroduce Classics subjects into schools in Scotland

Issued: Wed, 28 Mar 2018 13:00:00 BST

Photo of Aristotle for Reviving Classical Studies in Scottish state schools

‌Academic, education policy makers and teachers will be meeting today to launch a project in Scotland to help revive Classics subjects in Scottish state schools.

The University of Glasgow and Advocating Classic Education (ACE) are part of a UK-wide campaign to help reintroduce the study of the classical world into all schools.

Now they are taking their campaign to Scotland. Among those taking part in the event at the University of Glasgow will be Scotland’s largest local authority Glasgow City Council; The Classical Association of Scotland; Moray House School of Education at the University of Edinburgh and the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

Writer and broadcaster Natalie Haynes, author of The Ancient Guide to Modern Life will speak at the event. She read Classics at Cambridge and has spoken on the subject’s relevance in today’s world to audiences around the world.

Professor Matthew Fox, Professor of Classics who is organising An Evening with ACE at The Hunterian, said: “The University of Glasgow is now part of the UK wide project aimed at raising the profile of the subject of Classical Studies in state secondary schools.

“Far too few children are being educated about the ancient Greeks and Romans at secondary school. We are hoping to help bring the study of Classical civilisation to Scottish schools, which over recent decades has experienced an almost complete extinction of the subject in the state sector. We want to see a sea change and an expansion of the increasingly narrowing curriculum available to Scottish pupils.

“Classical subjects have been shown to equip pupils with new skills in critical thinking, and cultural and historical awareness. The ancient world grips the popular imagination, but also has great potential to train minds. We believe that there are great benefits for students in regenerating the subject.”

Dr Arlene Holmes-Henderson, who is leading the Advocating Classic Education (ACE) project and is also an Arts and Humanities Research Council Research Fellow in Classics Education at King's College London, who is taking part in the University of Glasgow event, said: “As a former teacher of Classical Studies in Scotland, I have witnessed first-hand the contemporary value and relevance of teaching Classical Studies in Scottish secondary schools. 

“Students love exploring the rich diversity of daily life in the ancient world through the SQA qualifications (available at all levels) which include the study of literature, art, architecture, history and material culture. A strong humanities subject in its own right, Classical Studies confers transferable skills such as critical literacy and cultural capital, and helps cultivate Curriculum for Excellence's four capacities."

Already the University in partnership with Glasgow City Council is running The Literacy through Latin project, teaching Latin in primary schools in the city. This has seen a great improvement in literacy. The council is extending the scheme to 400 primary school children later this year. 

The event will be held at The Hunterian Museum with its exceptional collection of Roman artefacts and objects. The museum gives an insight into the everyday life in Roman Scotland.

ACE Classics is an Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project to extend classical-subject qualifications across the secondary education sector.

The Literacy through Latin is a project begun by the educational charity, The Iris Project and funded by the University of Glasgow Chancellor’s Fund.

It aims is to help children improve their English by learning Latin to become more comfortable with vocabulary and useful grammatical terms as well as being taught about Roman civilisations.

The project has seen a major impact on the students’ attainment in all areas of literacy including an improvement in writing skills and logical thinking. It is felt that the grammar-heavy nature of Latin benefits children’s understanding of English.