Primary schools 'should teach Latin'

Primary school pupils should be given lessons in Latin, a think-tank said today.

The ancient language should be granted the same status as modern languages such as French, German and Spanish, according to a pamphlet produced by Politeia.

From September next year all primary schools will be required to teach pupils a modern foreign language from the age of seven.

The pamphlet, by Oxford classicists Professor Christopher Pelling and Dr Llewelyn Morgan, argues that Latin will help youngsters with written and spoken English, maths, and to learn other languages.

It says: "We want our children to be confident in their ability to speak to British and non-British people, and to feel comfortable in a diverse and evolving world, and at the heart of that aspiration is linguistic sophistication.

"We want them to be alive to the significance of our country's past, and motivated to study the literature which preserves and celebrates that past. We also want our kids to be taught by a highly qualified and passionate cadre of educators. We want them to fly high. To all of that Latin is the key."

The document, entitled Latin For Language Learners: Opening Opportunity For Primary Pupils, calls for Education Secretary Michael Gove to allow Latin the same support as modern languages in primary schools.

It proposes: "If the new Government decides to accept the status quo, i.e. most primary schools are already teaching a foreign language, the Secretary of State should ensure that Latin is given the same status as other foreign language options.

"This would mean including Latin as a primary foreign language option in statutory measures or non-statutory guidance."

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: "There is no veto on primary schools teaching Latin, it is for schools to decide whether it should be included in their curriculum.

"Latin is an important subject and is valuable for supporting pupils' learning of modern languages. It can provide a very useful basis for study across a range of disciplines.

"It is however not classified in the national curriculum as a modern language as pupils are not able to interact with native Latin speakers or study/visit parts of the world where Latin is spoken as a native language."

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