Latin lessons returning in Doncaster schools

Schools focus - Edenthorpe Hall School. Pictured are students learning Latin to help improve their grammar.
Schools focus - Edenthorpe Hall School. Pictured are students learning Latin to help improve their grammar.

It was a favourite of the old grammar schools - and now Latin is back in Doncaster.

The ancient language of the Romans is back on the curriculum in the borough at Edenthorpe Hall Primary School as part of a selection of changes which have been made there.

It is not the only change brought in this year at the school, which was taken over by an academy trust last year after it had been rated as requiring improvement by Ofsted.

Now it is being run by the Astrea Academy Trust, one of a number of schools in the borough run by the organisation. And it has a new headteacher, in Jonathan Moody.

He is bringing in a number of changes which also mean there will be:

*More ways to learn music.

*New reading work.

*Building improvements.

*Sporting competitions.

*Increased community involvement.

For Mr Moody, the changes are aimed at bringing a buzz back to the school.

He is pleased with the way the staff at the school are working to bring in the new features, and happy with the help he is getting from the educational trust.

The return of Latin may be one of the more unusual changes, and is being brought under a scheme called Minimus - the name of a educational book that was introduced to teach Latin in schools. It has been used in some schools in the south for some time.

The idea is that by teaching Latin, lessons actually help children with their English. The writer, Barbara Bell, said she created her book Minimus, about a mouse, to teach grammar.

She said of teaching children grammar in an interview in 2004: "When you mentioned a verb, for example, there would be glazed faces - how can you expect them to pick up other modern languages without the tools of the trade, the parts of speech, prefixes and suffixes and so on? I learnt all that through Latin, and I decided to use the same approach.

"So Minimus is partly about teaching English through simple Latin, and it links up with many other things primary children are supposed to be doing: English and literacy, obviously, and also history, because most primary schools study the Romans in Britain."

Edenthorpe Hall is hoping that teaching Latin will help its pupils with their grammar too, and also that it will help them expand their vocabulary because of all the English words with Latin roots.

Mr Moody said: "Astrea wants us to be the first northern schools to try it. I understand Hexthorpe and Kingfisher primary schools will be doing it too.

"We're doing it as part of the curriculum, and the plan is to measure the impact on vocabulary and grammar. As heads we're hoping it will improve the confidence and self esteem of the pupils.

"We're just starting the programme. The idea is to do projects during the year and some performances for parents to show off what they have already learned.

The teachers have had training with the textbook, and are looking to combine it with other coursework.

It is not the only Roman sounding element at the school - it has also introduced a project called Reading Gladiators.

Reading Gladiators is being brought in at schools across the whole Astrea trust, and is looking to help the better readers in the schools the develop their reading.

Teachers across from across South Yorkshire gathered at Edenthorpe Hall this week to meet the woman who runs the project, Nikki Gamble.

The idea is that pupils will get together to read books that are more challenging than they would otherwise read. And at the end of the courses, they will take part in a contest to see who has done better in understanding the books.

Getting out and about

Pupils at Edenthorpe Hall School can expect to get out and about more this year.

Plans have been drawn up to see the school more involved in its community, and taking part in more sports events.

Extra community involvement has already begun to take effect at the school. Pupils have been involved in remembrance events this month, and they also used their harvest festival to provide food for the community.

And the increasing sporting diary means pupils have been out in the community taking part in competitions with other schools.

The new community face of the school and its sporting involvement saw the school provide the half time entertainment for the Doncaster Knights rugby union club recently.

The Knights have been providing tag-rugby sessions at the school, and gave its pupils the chance to display their skills in a specially organised match against Canon Popham School, also in Edenthorpe, during the interval at one of their first time matches at their Castle Park ground.

The school is also providing more music, with teachers from Doncaster Music Service providing teaching in woodwind, brass, violins, keyboards and ukeles.

Headteacher Jonathan Moody said: "That and the addition of sports is something that we hope will get the school buzzing."

Building's facelift

A programme of refurbishment work is underway at at Edenthorpe Hall which is intended to transform its classrooms.

The trust which runs the school has made cash available for a programme of work which is already underway, with a £30,000 revamp of the foundation stage classrooms completed already.

There is also work ongoing to improve the year four and five classrooms, with new furniture, new sinks, improved lighting cupboards, decoration work, and new carpets.

A new staircase is on the way, as well as LED lighting in corridors.

Year two and three accommodation is likely to be improved after that work is completed, said Mr Moody.

Meanwhile, the recently re-introduced Parent Teacher Friendly Association is looking to raise money for the school to improve the key stage two playground and the play equipment for key stage one children.