St Matthew’s Church of England Primary is a one form entry school, situated in the Nechells area of inner-city Birmingham, the 5th most deprived ward in the UK. The percentage of pupils eligible for Free School Meals (79%) is one of the highest in the city and significantly higher than the national figure (27%). The vast majority of pupils (78%) do not speak English as a first language and attainment on entry is below the national average. Despite these challenging circumstances, the school has been Ofsted Outstanding since 2015 and has recently been awarded National Teaching School status.
The school’s leadership team is striving to ensure that the curriculum St Matthew’s offers its pupils is on a par with, if not better than, any school in any area. As part of this aspirational vision, Latin is the school’s language of choice for study at Key Stage 2 (KS2) in order to support pupils’ literacy skills and enhance their cultural capital.
In December 2018, Classics for All committed to training 11 teachers over two years to use the Maximum Classics resources. In 2018-19, Latin was successfully trialled with 30 pupils in Year 3 and now the course is taught to all pupils in Years 3 and 4. By September 2020, all Key Stage 2 pupils (210) will be learning Latin for at least 30 minutes each week and every member of staff in the school will have been trained to teach the language with confidence.
“Our children have really enjoyed learning Latin in this first year of the project and we would like to sustain the momentum by making sure that all of our teachers are trained and ready to deliver the course. Our KS1 teachers have also been dipping into the Maximum Classics materials to use in their lessons!” (Sonia Thompson, Headteacher)
The success of Latin at St Matthew’s has in turn generated interested from four or five other local primary schools, and there is a rapidly increasing demand for primary Latin in the state sector in Birmingham.