Classics North of Hadrian’s Wall

Alex Imrie, Scottish Classics Network Co-ordinator

We have been working hard over the past months to revive Classics ‘north of the wall’, and to re-introduce our subject into Scottish state schools. While only setting out on a long road, we are seeing considerable enthusiasm across the board.

I’ve been running all over the country (arctic weather conditions permitting!) to discuss introducing Latin as a language option for primary schools, and we have commenced formal consultations with a number of local authorities. In Aberdeen, we have even been featured in the local media! Local councillor Martin Greig is optimistic, and has predicted ‘great interest’ among teachers, parents and pupils alike.

Progress has been made with Glasgow City Council, where we are in the process of training teachers to deliver a ten week unit in Latin in ten different primary schools, all of them in areas of high social deprivation. This programme will introduce Latin to c.450 pupils simultaneously.

Elizabeth Norton, Languages Development Officer for Glasgow, says: “Our endeavours to embed Latin learning within in our Glasgow Primary Schools have been welcomed with open arms by the Latin and Classics community in Scotland. We are receiving generous support from Classics for All and we look forward to a rich and fruitful ongoing relationship.”

More generally, CfA and the Classical Association of Scotland have enjoyed success working alongside teachers to create a national network of Classics teachers. This aims to facilitate contact between experienced educators, and to spearhead the development of materials for schools across the country. Lee Baker, teacher at St Aloysius College, is excited about this venture:

“It has been great getting to know Alex through his role with Classics for All and we are starting to see the positive effects of having a dedicated person fighting the corner for Classics in Scotland. We are looking forward to developing new resources, based on materials produced by the continuous graft of experienced Classics teachers, to help support new centres deliver Classical Studies qualifications. Most importantly, the prospect of teaching training programmes for Latin and Classical Studies coming back online is very exciting and we will all be delighted to welcome new people into the profession.”

Indeed, one of our most exciting developments has been a breakthrough with Moray House School of Education, which has committed to the reintroduction of teaching qualifications in Latin & Classics from the 2019/20 session (in all Masters and PGDE programmes). This is clearly a crucial development for ensuring that Classics in Scotland flourishes, and we are thrilled to work alongside our colleagues at Moray House to ensure that this is a success.

These advances are only the beginning of a wide reaching and ambitious national agenda, but with the assistance of CfA alongside colleagues from all manner of backgrounds, I see every reason to be optimistic about Classics in Scotland!

The Scottish Classics Network is supported by Classics for All thanks to the Hugh Fraser Foundation, Robin Angus (in memory of Alexander Nicol MA, Head of Classics, Forres Academy 1929-1966) and several other individual donations.