Sheffield primary school to teach pupils Latin in bid to improve literacy skills

Written by Sophie Watson

A Sheffield Primary school has announced that they will start teaching their Key Stage two students Latin from September 2022.

Woodlands Primary School on Norton Avenue in Gleadless will provide 30 minute Latin lessons every week to children aged seven to 11 in the hopes to improve literacy skills at their school.

The Gleadless Primary will be one of two known schools in Sheffield to provide their pupils with Latin lessons. Arbourthorne Community Primary School on Eastern Avenue in Arbourthorne is the other primary school to do this and has been teaching Latin to their students since 2018.

More than sixty per cent of the English vocabulary is made up of a combination of Latin and Greek origins. Assistant Headteacher, Sarah Bustamante says there are huge benefits to teaching children Latin at primary school.

“We teach vocabulary very specifically at Woodlands but we know that this is not always enough. We want to give our pupils a real depth of understanding of vocabulary and language and we feel that comes from Latin. I really love all languages. In primary school we can choose a language that is right for our school. We want to give our children a real in-depth knowledge of an ancient language.

“Learning Latin will help our pupils unlock the meaning and understanding of complex words preparing them for secondary school and beyond.”

Children learning Latin at Woodlands Primary School

All Key Stage two children must be taught a foreign language at school. Only four per cent of UK primary schools offer Latin as that foreign language.

At present Mrs Bustamante is trialling the Latin lessons with her year five pupils before rolling out the curriculum across Key Stage two. In September, all classes will be taught Latin by their class teacher.

Ethan, a year five pupil at Woodlands, said: “I think learning Latin is cool, I learnt that without Latin we wouldn’t have a language containing the vocabulary we have today.” “I think it was interesting doing Latin and I have already learned so many words and where they came from”, said Alfred, another pupil in the year.

Trial Latin lessons at Woodlands are “lively” with interactive features that include song and rhymes.

“Bringing a language alive is difficult when you’re not immersed in a country that speaks the language. You have to bring it alive and make it engaging”, says Mrs Bustamante. “At the moment, we’re teaching verb Latin endings to the song ‘We Will Rock You’ by Queen. We chant the verb endings to this song.”

Woodlands Primary School children

Support resources from the organisation ‘ Classics for All’ will be used to help deliver the Latin curriculum to Woodland Key Stage two pupils in September. Mrs Bustamante hopes her pupils will benefit greatly from this new language curriculum. 

“It’s a three pronged approach. We hope Woodland students will have a deeper knowledge of how words are created. We also want them to be able to link Latin to their learning in history so they have an understanding of where these words come from.

“Lastly, we want pupils to understand that the language we use today is impacted and affected by other people from other countries that have come to the British Isles. This is fascinating to learn about.”

Written by Sophie Watson

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