Roman invasion take two as Latin returns to north Norfolk classrooms

PUBLISHED: 06:30 22 September 2011

North Walsham Junior School pupils will soon be learning Latin. James Vann and Elizabeth Hickman (both 10) get into the spirt.

North Walsham Junior School pupils will soon be learning Latin. James Vann and Elizabeth Hickman (both 10) get into the spirt. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY


Vivat Latin! The so-called “dead” classical language is alive and well in state schools across a wide area of north Norfolk this term.

A top 10 of current words and phrases with their Latin translations

1. Cool - optime! or salubre!

2. LOL (laugh out loud) - ride libenter! or ridete vehementer!

3. Whatever - quicquid fiat

4. Innit - nonne (expecting the answer ‘yes’)

5. Like - sicut (as in “”I’m sicut studying Latin at sicut North Walsham High School”.”)

6. Random - insolitum

7. Wicked - callide! or malus!

8. Pants - subligaria

9. Talk to the hand - Adloquere manum

10.Twitter - pipiare

Children as young as seven are about to meet Roman rodent Minimus the mouse, while more than 20 teenagers are already voluntarily staying after school for a weekly two-hour Latin lesson which will lead to a GCSE in the language.

The revival has been made possible through a £20,500 grant from the national charity Classics for All which wants to see Latin and Greek taught once more in state schools.

An application on behalf of North Walsham High and its cluster of feeder schools was one of eight successful bids out of 37 hopefuls, according to languages teacher Jane Maguire, one of those behind the project.

Norwich’s Castle Museum has also received a £1,000 grant from the charity to stage two Roman days and will be working closely with the north Norfolk schools taking part.

Mrs Maguire thinks Latin has not been taught at North Walsham High for more than a quarter of a century but believes it has enormous benefits.

“Latin lays the foundation for an understanding and appreciation of the structure of language.

“If anyone says it’s a dead language, I would suggest they have a look at the 115 pages of Latin words, phrases and abbreviations listed by Wikipedia as being in common use in English.”

Mrs Maguire, who used to teach at North Walsham High, retired this summer from a post as East Norfolk Schools’ gifted and talented co-ordinator where she saw the Minimus Latin course for younger children successfully introduced in 15 schools.

From next week Minimus mouse will become a familiar character among pupils at Antingham and Southrepps, Bacton, Millfield, Swanton Abbott, Worstead, Mundesley Junior and North Walsham Junior schools.

Mrs Maguire and fellow teachers Mary Cheeseman and Maxine Wood will work alongside a member of staff at each feeder school so that they will be able to continue once the two-year funding ends.

And at North Walsham High, head teacher Caroline Brooker hopes the success of the north Norfolk pilot will make the government recognise the value of Latin and fund it as part of the curriculum.

“It’s very important to our use of English,” she said. “You can’t express yourself correctly in Latin without understanding parts of speech and the way in which they inter-relate.”

Once a term there will also be Latin-related events in the new Atrium building at the high school, beginning on October 10 with a talk by Barbara Bell, author of Minimus.

A spokesman for Norfolk County Council’s children’s services department said they did not think Latin was taught in many secondary schools across the county but there had been an upsurge in the number of primary schools teaching the subject, largely among Year Six pupils and those on gifted and talented programmes.

She added: “Latin is seen as a way of extending learning in primary languages and also has very strong links with English and literacy. Schools are finding that it is effective in raising standards in literacy, improving children’s vocabulary and their understanding of language.”


  • Aside from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, the fresh water system, roads and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?

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    Friday, September 23, 2011

  • What have the Romans done for us?

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    Thursday, September 22, 2011

  • OM - when I was in high school, the fashion was Russian and Japanese, because Russia was the major political opponent to the West and Japan was the major economic force. Russia is finally bringing itself out of political and economic chaos and Japan is still in a 25 year recession. Any study children start now in school will not bear fruit for at least 10 years, so the Mandarin argument presupposes a politicaleconomic world that will be identical to the world we have now. Learning a language for directed practical purposes is short sighted, at best. Languages should be learned more for the virtues of the language itself.

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    Friday, September 23, 2011

  • Why don't we concentrate on teaching the languages that will benefit these children in later life, like Mandarin and Spanish,, rather than wasting more money and the children's time on this.

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    Thursday, September 22, 2011

  • You can’t express yourself correctly in Latin without understanding parts of speech and the way in which they inter-relate.” errr never had to express myself in latin at anytime in my life pls some one give me an exsample of when i would need to ?

    Report this comment

    Thursday, September 22, 2011

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site


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