Page last updated at 09:13 GMT, Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Mayor urges London state schools to teach Latin

A page of the Bible in Latin
The ancient language helps develop analytical thinking

London mayor Boris Johnson has urged more state schools to teach Latin to stop the language from being "the fodder of the independent sector".

A study by Friends of Classics, unveiled at a meeting, found that 2% to 4% of state primary schools teach Latin compared to 40% of independent schools.

Head teachers of primary and secondary schools met the mayor, himself a classics student, at City Hall.

Mr Johnson said it was "absurd" for Latin to be left out of the curriculum.

There is no question that the demand is there for Latin
Dr Peter Jones, Friends of Classics

Mr Johnson, who studied the language at Eton and at Oxford, said: "I firmly believe that we must not starve the minds of students eager to embrace the great intellectual disciplines of Latin.

"And we must stop the classics being the fodder of the independent sector alone.

"There is simply no better way than to make young minds think in a logical and analytical way."

Dr Peter Jones, co-founder of Friends of Classics, said: "There is no question that the demand is there for Latin."

The study found that a big reason for not teaching the language was lack of funds and resources, with 40% of schools facing difficulty in recruiting staff trained in Latin.

TV presenter

Also, more than half the state schools found it hard to allocate slots for it on the timetable, the report found.

The event will also hear from the Barking Abbey state secondary school, in Barking and Dagenham, which introduced Latin in the curriculum a few years ago.

Anthony Moloney, head of classics and ancient studies at the school, said: "We currently have 50 students across all years studying Latin and I believe it has a place in every school."

TV presenter Bettany Hughes, who is also President of the Joint Association of Classical Teachers, joined the mayor at the event.

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