Page last updated at 16:36 GMT, Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Lords fears over Latin teaching

Pupil at desk
Knowledge of Latin is key to mastering many disciplines, peers said.

A decline in the number of Latin teachers poses a serious threat to the teaching of the language in schools, peers have been told.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester said he was concerned the number of Latin teachers leaving the profession each year was far outnumbering those being trained.

He urged the government to give Latin the same priority in the curriculum as modern languages to reverse this trend.

Ministers said modern languages were their priority at primary school level.

Important subject

For every 35-40 new Latin teachers entering the profession every year, more than 60 were either retiring or opting to do something else, Labour peer Lord Faulkner said in the House of Lords.

Isn't it time that Latin was reclassified as an official curriculum language and given the same encouragement as other languages?
Lord Faulkner of Worcester

He also expressed dismay about the 85% of state schools he said did not currently teach Latin at all.

"Isn't it time that Latin was reclassified as an official curriculum language and given the same encouragement as other languages?" he told peers.

Where individual schools could not offer Latin, ministers should urge local education authorities to include the subject somewhere on their curriculum.

For the government, Baroness Morgan of Drefelin said Latin was an "important subject" and a valuable tool in helping people learn a broad range of other languages.

She said it was "worrying" if a growing number of teachers were exiting the profession, for whatever reason, every year.

The number of non-selective state schools offering Latin had doubled since 2000, she said, while there would be a consultation on Latin's inclusion in the languages diploma next year

But she stressed: "It is for schools to decide whether it should be included in the curriculum."

Figures published earlier this year showed the number of non-selective state secondary schools in England teaching Latin rose from 200 in 2000 to 471 last year.

But education specialists have expressed concerns that the rise in pupils learning the language is limited to Key Stage 3 pupils aged 12-14 and is not mirrored at GCSE and A-level.

There are also concerns about a continuing shortage in the number of postgraduate teaching colleges offering Latin courses.



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