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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 September 2007, 10:55 GMT 11:55 UK
Latin taught in 20 London schools
Children in a Latin lesson in a London school
The students will be taught using activities and stories
Hundreds of children in state schools in east London have began classes in Latin, a language which was mainly used more than 2,000 years ago.

The year long course, which began in 20 schools in Hackney, aims to help students improve their English.

The course is part of an outreach project for inner city schools called Iris Project. It was started by teacher Lorna Robinson last year.

Children will be taught Latin through activities, games and storytelling.

The project received funding from Oxford University, Cambridge School's Classics Project, Friends of Classics and private donations.

'Mastery' over English

Ms Robinson, 28, who has a PhD from University College London, started the pilot project in two schools - one school in Hackney and the other in Kilburn, in north-west London - last September.

She said: "It helps them with very basic things like spelling but it also helps them develop a confidence and mastery of the language.

"All children should have that opportunity. Hackney is of really mixed demographic and has children from all different backgrounds and they have all benefited from it."

Lorna Robinson
Lorna Robinson says children will be able to improve their English

Nearly 750 children will be taught by 15 students from King's College London and University College London.

The course is designed for mixed-ability classes, and will include activities and storytelling based around myths from Ovid's "Metamorphoses", talks and drama workshops.

Nine and 10-year-old children at St Scholastica's Primary School were among the first to start their Latin classes this term.

Joshua, aged nine, said: "I know lots of the Latin words because I speak Italian. We make up funny sentences with Latin and English words."

Another student Fabio, also nine, said: "I thought it was kind of really fun because I learnt a lot of stuff about Rome and Italy and the language Latin and how they connected different languages."

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