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Classics at Blackpool Sixth Form has been a high profile subject in the college for some years. Student numbers have always been very high, with numbers studying A-level Classical Civilisation always around 100-150, with excellent grades to accompany. We have been passionate in our view that the engagement and skills acquired from a study of classical history and literature can have a profound impact on student grades, literacy, communication and aspirations. A packed enrichment program ranging from theatre visits to archaeology digs, to visits to Athens and guest speakers, reinforces and reiterates the relevance and skills of the subject and has led to the creation of long term, highly profitable links with a range of outside associations, schools, universities and employers.
Despite this, locally, no primary or secondary schools offered students any opportunities for exposure to classical literature or language. The possibility of creating a Classics hub in the Blackpool and Fylde area was an opportunity too good to miss. The aim of the project is to create enrichment clubs and societies at partner high schools – using literature and history as a means of improving literacy and communication skills – and to embark on an ambitious plan to implement Latin at two partner primary schools. Already our schools have noticed an improvement in grammar, communication and the confidence of the pupils involved.
Initially, a training day was organised for interested staff from local high schools. It was decided that Montgomery school would run a group looking a literature, whilst Aspire and Hodgson would run History groups. The groups would aim to further develop the skills of gifted and talented pupils but also provide a general platform for any interested students. High school staff were given a ‘crash-course’ on the Greek and Roman history and literature that we had decided to look at. With lesson pans, resources and materials all created in advance the tutors could concentrate on getting confident with the sessions.
In October we hosted a training day with the excellent Sue Balmer who expertly guided the primary school staff in the delivery of the Minimus course for year 3. The feedback from students and staff has been excellent with Latin at one of the primaries now being included as part of the curriculum and, in the other primary, using a peer-learning style – older children working with the younger pupils. With re-enactors and archaeology visits already planned, and the first Latin assembly due to be given to parents, the project is going from strength to strength.
Word has certainly got out and the hub has had contact from more interested primary schools, whilst improved relationships with the high schools has led to several Ancient History taster sessions. In an area that often, and undeservedly, suffers from poor press coverage it is thrilling to see pupils engage with classics – history, literature and language – and see it as meaningful, relevant, exciting and a real opportunity to take!
Get in touch with the Blackpool Hub through our North West hub page here.