Greig City Academy: A Case Study in the Introduction of Classics & Latin

Greig City Academy is a non-selective, state academy educating 1,128 pupils from year 7 to sixth form in the heart of Haringey, North London. 73% of the students have been eligible for free school meals in the past six years, and 62% speak English as an additional language. Despite the challenges this student profile presents, Greig City has been judged as Good by Ofsted, and has achieved above-average GCSE results (52% A-C grades in 2015).

Having read about the Classic for All grant programme, Assistant Vice Principal Deborah Hughes recognised in Classics a subject that would enrich Greig City students’ education. After the award of a grant by Classics for All, Deborah set about recruiting a teacher or tutor with the vision to deliver a Classics course tailored to the needs of its pupils. In September 2014, Classics Club, led by tutor Charlie Andrew, was put on the GCA year 8 timetable as an extra-curricular class run in school lesson time. Students were self-selecting: the Club was presented in an assembly, along with a brief overview of Classics and Latin, and the possible benefits of studying them.

Initially, around 14 students signed up, a mixture of both gifted and talented (G&T) and non-G&T pupils. None had any prior experience of Latin, although some had ideas about its prestige and usefulness.

The Classics Club course consisted of one hour’s teaching per week, which was roughly split into half an hour of Classical Civilisation and half an hour of Latin language learning. Emphasis on the language side was placed on etymology and grammar learning that would give cross-curricular benefits especially to English and modern foreign language (MFL) subjects. Civilisation teaching underlined the connections between Classical and modern cultures. Subjects included Myths and Why They Exist, Best And Worst Forms Of Government, Being Good and Food & Cookery (culminating in The Great Roman Bake Off where students cook original Roman recipes with authentic ingredients). The class also spent half a term studying The Bacchae, and went to see the play at the Bloomsbury Theatre. In order to encourage home-school links, a blog was set up for Classics Club (gcaclassicsclub.blogspot.com), so that pupils could consolidate and extend learning outside of school hours, and parents could engage with their children in their learning.

The grant was originally intended to fund the year 8 Classics Club for three years, but after the first cohort had passed through Classics Club, it was apparent from the students themselves that there was an appetite to continue. Therefore, a further grant from CfA helped the school to fund a Latin language class (teaching the Cambridge Latin Course) for year 9 students who had participated in Classics Club in year 8. Post-options, five of this year 9 group chose to take Latin as a GCSE.

Now in its third year of offering Classics and Latin, GCA has nineteen students in Classics Club, nine year 9 students following on with Latin, and five students preparing for GCSE Latin: 32 keen new Classicists, thanks to the support of Classics for All. The school has also shown its commitment to the subject by creating and funding the staff role of Classics and Latin Tutor within the MFL department.

An interesting side-project of the Classics course at GCA has been the development by the school’s Latin and Classics Tutor of an outreach project aimed at primary schools local to the Academy. Based on the materials used at GCA, this course offers a Key Stage 2 version of Classics Club that can be taught, after basic training, by incumbent class teachers. This project is currently being trialled in three Haringey primary schools, with five more North London schools in the process of training up to offer the course.