“One in six people in the UK struggle with literacy. This means their literacy is below the level expected of an eleven-year-old” (Department for Education, 2003) and this underachievement in literacy is particularly evident in the case of disadvantaged children.
The Latin Programme is committed to finding innovative ways to help state primary school children achieve a better performance in literacy and improve their life prospects. We concentrate on the link between literacy levels and future prospects because individuals with good literacy skills “are more likely to have higher self-esteem, better health, better jobs and higher wages than those with poor literacy skills” (National Literacy Trust).
The Latin Programme works in inner-city London state primary schools with Years 3 through 6 improving English literacy through the study of Latin and English grammar. Our programme has proven results, schools see their students’ literacy levels and SATs results rise, thereby supporting students’ transition to secondary school.
Lesson plans and the work done in class are tailored to meet the needs of both the school and the pupils, with a focus on mixed abilities and different learning strategies.
One of the strengths of our program is the teaching. While we have an innovative and ‘fun’ curriculum which children enjoy and which results in increased Literacy levels, the way in which our teachers teach is unique. Both our current teachers, as well as our Executive Director who began as a teacher, have performance backgrounds and this, we believe, is an essential characteristic. Their ability to hold the attention of the class, to engage them in songs, games and drama is part of the alchemical experience of The Latin Programme. The charisma of our teachers often fools students into learning, our teachers are able to smuggle in knowledge under the guise of fun. We believe that storytelling is also a key aspect of literacy and as part of the course a professional storyteller works with the pupils once a term, weaving the Latin that they have learnt into the retelling of a Classical myth.