[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 2 June 2006, 13:17 GMT 14:17 UK
Classics drive for inner cities
Lorna Robinson
Dr Robinson thinks state pupils are missing out
A teacher at a leading independent school is giving up her job to bring classics to England's inner cities.

Lorna Robinson will leave Wellington College in Berkshire this summer to offer out-of-school classes in Latin and Greek at comprehensives.

She said the decline in state pupils taking classics was a "real concern".

Dr Robinson is also editing a Latin and Greek magazine called Iris, which will be distributed free to state schools by Oxford University.


Latin GCSE entries fell from 16,000 in 1988 to 9,900 in 2004.

The number of children taking Latin or Greek at A-level has also declined.

From this autumn, Dr Robinson will run workshops at state schools on Saturdays and weekday afternoons, in both languages and ancient cultures.

She said: "It's a real shame there isn't the same opportunity in state schools. I'm not saying it should be compulsory, but it should be on offer.

"People in the private sector should try to share their expertise. I don't think I could have stayed true to myself and kept teaching exclusively in private schools."

I use Latin and Greek every day to work out what English words mean
Lorna Robinson

Dr Robinson, an Oxford graduate, is leaving Wellington College - which charges fees of more than 20,000 a year - after just a year in the teaching profession.

She said: "When the national curriculum came in, it was almost the end of classics in state schools. That seems so unfair.

"People do compulsory maths and then say, after the age of 16, that they don't use it again.

"I use Latin and Greek every day to work out what English words mean.

Scene from Warner Bros movie Troy
Films like Troy have increased interest in ancient history

"It's learning for fun and for its own sake, but it's important

"There are teachers in the state sector who are very keen to offer it. Hopefully it can grow from a small programme to something much bigger."

Dr Robinson will edit Iris magazine, but most of the content will be written by schoolchildren.

She said: "They know how to reach other kids better than me.

"The idea is to make it fun. The magazine won't be scholarly but full of amusing and creative stuff."

Dr Robinson is hoping that recent classically themed films such as Troy and Alexander will increase interest.

She said: "Latin and Greek are fantastic languages, absolutely wonderful. They help us understand our own language.

"You also get to read some of the great works of literature.

"Latin and Greek help you think in a logical way. A lot of classics graduates do jobs like computer programming and it helps in professions like medicine that you know what words mean.

"It's not vocational but the child can get a lot out of it. Pupils in the state sector are missing out."

Anger as exam board drops classics
11 Jun 04 |  Education
Academic recreates naked Olympics
09 Jul 04 |  Education

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific