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Alice Case, Coordinator of the Liverpool Classics Network reports on a Greek School that gets teenagers out of bed on a Saturday morning.
It is a common belief that all teenagers are sound asleep on Saturday morning. However, in Liverpool a small but committed group of 13-18 year olds are foregoing the lie in and endless scrolling through social media to gather for an unusual activity: Learning Ancient Greek.
The Liverpool Ancient Greek Academy is a unique project run by the Liverpool Classics Network in partnership with the University of Liverpool and funded by Classics for All, which gives secondary school pupils the opportunity to learn Ancient Greek up to GCSE level.
The course lasts two years and is taught by Dr John Taylor and Dr James Thorne, at Liverpool College. No one should underestimate the commitment required for a teenager to give up their Saturday mornings, sometimes travelling for up to an hour each way, to learn an ancient language usually only taught in Independent and selective Grammar Schools.
Our first cohort sat their GCSE this summer and although numbers are small we make up 7.5% of all state school entries in the UK for Ancient Greek GCSE and 16% of all entries in the North West. For me, the most important part is that young people across the region are being given the opportunity to try this subject and there is huge enthusiasm for it. Last year over 40 students started the course and we expect similar numbers this September. Inevitably some of those who start the course drop out, giving us classes of 10-15 students.
What motivates a teenager to make this level of commitment to a subject when the majority have no previous exposure to Latin or Classical Civilisation ? Some of their responses might surprise you!
“I love that the course lets me see the origins of languages around me, and has given me more language learning experience in preparation for university.” Aimee, Archbishop Blanch School
“I decided to study Greek as I am considering studying Ancient History at University in the future.” Lucianna, Weatherhead High School
“I wanted to do Greek to help with an understanding of the Gospels. I am enjoying the class as it pushes us to the limits.” William, St Edwards College
“I wanted to do Greek because it will look good on a CV for an interpreter in the army.” Lauren
“I wanted to try Ancient Greek because I really enjoy languages. It is really interesting and also quite unique!” Ciara, Belvedere Academy
“It is great to be able to talk to other people in class who are also interested in languages.” Lucy
“I wanted to learn Greek in order to challenge myself, but also in order to enrich my understanding of other subjects. I have not been disappointed! “ Eira
To help with recruitment, this summer we offered schools new to us a taster lesson for their pupils and delivered Ancient Greek lessons to over 100 young people, some of whom will be joining us in September. The new academic year will bring our first results, a new cohort, a new teacher (replacing Dr Taylor, who is standing down), and funding from the Classical Association and the Hellenic Society, in addition to that from Classics for All. Most of all, it will bring new opportunities to students, giving them a chance to get together for the sheer love of learning, and make new friends.
More information about the Liverpool Ancient Greek Academy which is free and open to pupils in any Merseyside school can be found at www.liverpoolclassicshub.uk or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org