By Dr Alex Imrie, Classics Outreach Co-ordinator for Scotland, Classical Association of Scotland
A campaign to reinvigorate Classics across Scotland is underway, drawing together teachers, academics and others dedicated to the idea that Classics should be available to all learners, not only those in private education. Under these auspices, ACE, in conjunction with the Classical Association of Scotland and Classics for All (CfA), participated in an event hosted by University of St Andrews on 11th March 2020. This was actually our second attempt, after a day-long event for teachers and pupils in 2018 was postponed by the ‘Beast from the East’. This time we managed to meet before yet another international crisis put pay to easy movement!
As CAS outreach co-ordinator, I worked with colleagues in St Andrews to capitalise on ACE’s arrival in Scotland, planning an event outlining the practical issues of getting Classics into schools, as well as the range of help available. I was lucky to work with Dr Nikoletta Manioti from the University of St Andrews. Her tireless efforts and organisation ensured this event’s success.
We invited a variety of presenters that would resonate with teachers who were either already classicists, or non-classicists but wanting to introduce Classics to their school, and those about to set out on their teaching career. In the end, we had over twenty attendees spanning the length and breadth of Scotland.
Launching proceedings, Professor Edith Hall introduced ACE, acknowledging structural differences between the Scottish and English curricula, but identifying collaborators active in Scotland. She also pointed to a rich bank of resources that were easily translatable across the curricular divide.
Seb Sewell (Royal High School) explained how he has embedded Classical Studies at RHS, emphasising the need to secure support from schools’ senior management teams. He embraced a whole-school initiative to digitise resources, developing a package of materials that his pupils can access online. This demonstrated how Classics can be aligned with school-wide priorities, like any other subject.
Next was Jennifer Shearer (Kirkcaldy High School), whose success in making Classics accessible to pupils in Fife is well-known. She offered an insight into a typical day’s activities for her Latin learners, showing how classical subjects are useful even beyond the subject-specific benefits they bring, addressing neatly the wider objectives of Curriculum for Excellence.
Lucy Angel (Mackie Academy) shared her experience of getting Classics into a school from scratch. She explained how the advice she received from CAS and ACE assisted in her approach, developing an S2-elective option into a fully-fledged set of senior classes, boasting over thirty pupils across National 5 to Advanced Higher in the coming session. Lucy’s case is noteworthy in that she did not possess the credits to be recognised by the General Teaching Council of Scotland (GTCS) as a Classical Studies teacher. Taking advantage of financial assistance from CfA, however, she is studying for a Masters degree that will see her credited by the GTCS from next session.
Lynne Pratt and Mike Lynch (Moray House School of Education) explained the pathways that teacher training candidates in Latin & Classical Studies could follow. The re-establishment of teacher training in Scotland is a major development, and so to have Mike and Lynne explain the PGDE course (commencing 2021) was a valuable addition.
Lastly, I represented CAS, to outline the help available to schools. We have an ever-expanding network of Classics teachers. We work with schools, universities and SQA to develop materials that combine the latest research with robust classroom pedagogy. We have projects at all levels and, thanks to CfA, we can offer funding to help new centres get started.
We remain at the start of a long road in Scotland, but thanks to organisations like CAS, CfA and ACE, there is much to be positive about!