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School Latin project lands European language award
“Salvete liberi. Propositum praemium meret.”
It may sound funny to most of us – but not to the youngsters on a Latin language learning scheme that has now won an award.
The phrase translates as: “Greetings children. A project has won an award.”
And the innovative Oxford project, which has taught Latin to children in eight state primary schools, has now been recognised with a European award.
Director Lorna Robinson said: “We’re really excited at the news that the Literacy through Latin project has won this prestigious award.
“The judge who visited our lessons was delighted at the pupils’ enjoyment of Latin and their engagement with our method of using storytelling to deliver Latin as part of literacy.
“It shows that the project works and that it’s useful and interesting for pupils.
“We hope the award will help us secure funding for this long-running project to expand and develop.”
The Iris Project, first set up by Oxford University classics graduate Mrs Robinson in 2006, uses storytelling and myths to teach the ancient language.
It’s been used at Pegasus Primary in Blackbird Leys, Bayards Hill Primary in Barton, St Michael’s in Marston, North Hinksey Primary, St Thomas More Primaryin Kidlington and Sandhills Primary.
It focuses on stories from Ovid’s Metamorphoses like Arachne, which tells the tale of a woman who was turned into a spider.
It has been taught in Oxford in conjunction with Oxford University since 2007 and nine undergraduate and postgraduate students help deliver the course across the city.
And now it has won the 2013 European Language Label.
This award encourages new initiatives in the field of teaching and learning languages and it is co-ordinated by the European Commission.
The award will be presented at the EU Commission in London on September 26.
The Iris Project was the first scheme to deliver Latin as part of the national literacy curriculum and to focus on schools in deprived urban regions.
Dr Robinson, 34, who studied at Lady Margaret Hall College, said: “We focus especially on schools where literacy levels are often low and the subject may be a particular challenge for pupils.
“Through our projects we introduce the nuts and bolts of Latin grammar, and demonstrate the deep connections between Latin and English. In this way we help to unlock the complexity of English and instil a fascination for learning new languages.”
Since its beginnings in Oxford, the Iris Project has expanded to several schools across the UK and caters for more than 1,000 children in total.
Next month the Iris Project, together with Oxford University, will open the East Oxford Community Classics Centre. This will provide a new classics learning venue for people of all ages to attend events, workshops, lessons and exhibitions.