Leading Article: Academics should check their facts

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A pamphlet from the think-tank Politeia this week makes a persuasive argument for promoting Latin in primary school on the grounds that it can help youngsters master other subjects and learn other languages. Unfortunately, however, Politeia overeggs the pudding by suggesting that Latin is not in widespread use in primary schools because Labour banned it from them under its plans to promote modern foreign languages for children.

In fact, Labour did no such thing. It gave modest encouragement to the idea of a revival by encouraging the use of the comic strip-based Latin course called "Minimus" in the primary sector. Several schools are already using this course as a result. There is a tendency to adopt an "it is all Labour's fault" approach in the aftermath of the General Election – presumably in the hope that the Coalition Government will rally to the perceived ills perpetrated by the previous Government. Academics, however, should adopt a higher standard of accuracy in promoting their cause – and this Politeia report was written by two eminent academics. Indeed, one was the Oxford Regius Professor. Politeia could be knocking on an open door as a result of Education Secretary Michael Gove's desire for a more traditional curriculum. But we hope any decision he makes will be based on better evidence than this.