Reintroducing Latin at Archbishop Tenison’s Church of England School

Archbishop Tenison’s Church of England School, Croydon

After 25 years without Latin, we reintroduced Latin into the school curriculum at Key Stage 3 in September 2015.

Archbishop Tenison’s Church of England High School in Croydon is a mixed comprehensive school with a relatively large Sixth Form which serves the whole of the Archdeaconry of Croydon. We have a genuine mix of pupils from across the Borough to whom we offer a traditional academic curriculum as well as good provision in sports, the arts, technology and computing. In Year 7 we teach two foreign languages, French and German.  In 2015 we decided to reduce the time for each of these to 2 out of 30 periods and this gave us time for a 4th lesson of Science in Year 7 and 1 lesson of Latin. We have done this ever since.

In order not to introduce three languages to pupils at once, we start in the Autumn Term with an introductory 3-week unit on Why Latin? and then a 12-week course on English grammar to prepare the way for starting Latin in January. We use the Cambridge Latin Course, but in a discerning way. In Year 7 we teach the whole year group in mixed ability groups – for a few SEN pupils this is the only language they do. In Year 8 we again teach the whole year group for one 50-minute lesson a week, but this time we use the Maths sets, which works well.  We even get some say on the setting!

We now have 44/112 pupils taking Latin in Year 9. Many of these have taken Latin instead of either French or German – pupils had to choose two out of three languages with which to continue. 9 pupils have taken up the option of doing all three languages and are taught their French in a small group one Tutor Time and once after school for 45 minutes. We have also introduced Classical Civilisation in Year 12.

The initial support from Classics for All and from Anna Bell at St. Marylebone Church of England School was vital to us. There was a lot of planning involved. We worked hard at producing good resources for the pupils to use. We also had to learn quickly about what kind of teaching worked best for our pupils. Getting the summative assessment right has been important, too.

After relying for two years on the Headteacher (who has Latin at A Level) and then the Deputy Headteacher (who bravely took the second Year 7), we now have a dedicated teacher of Classics, on a growing part-time timetable. We also have two other new staff who can teach Latin. Andrew Corstorphine, Director of Learning at Trinity School, has also given us great encouragement with this and is even generously teaching 6 older pupils for a GCSE course in a twilight session. With help like this we had to succeed!

Richard Parrish