The move is part of the school’s bold mission to match the career advantage private sector students get through languages. It has already shown its ambition through the teaching of Mandarin at GCSE and A level. Now the school has added Classics with Latin to its curriculum.
The school is hosting a School Direct trainee as part of the wider Harris Initial Teacher Education postgraduate training programme. The trainee, Chrysoula Stavrianoudaki, has been teaching Classics to Year 7 and 8 groups and students who attend Latin this year have the chance to pick it as a language choice and carry on to GCSE level. A lot of them have picked and have demonstrated their enthusiasm to study Latin even at A-level.
As a result, 20 students have opted for Latin as an option and the first Latin GCSE class begins next year. In addition, a Classics Club has been formed running after school every Monday. The club’s focus was to help students learn vocabulary by using pictures and by acting out. It helped students prepare for a Latin Spelling Bee which took place at Harris Academy Chafford Hundred.
Ms Stavrianoudaki gained a Classics degree in Athens and holds a Psychology Masters from Essex University. “Latin is a very logical language, training exactness of thought, accuracy of expression and attention to detail. It builds the intellectual powers of the mind while at the same time it develops skill in English language,” Ms Stavrianoudaki explained.
“we felt Latin would help students
explore the mechanics and
structure of language
Rob Hitch, senior Vice-Principal, who is responsible for curriculum design and innovation, described how the new subject fits into the wider school programme, “We wanted to give our students the opportunity to study the Classics in Year 7 and 8 and to access the opportunities independent school students have.
“We felt that Classics is uniquely inter-disciplinary, helps students to see where culture, language, history and thought meet in a way traditional subjects do not always grapple with.
“In particular, we felt Latin would help students explore the mechanics and structure of language. The scheme has gone very well. We have received excellent feedback from parents, many of whom are aspirational and are now requesting their child be taught Latin.”
A brilliant chance
Harris South Norwood is maximising the chances of its students seeking higher education.
To begin with, it offers a sixth form curriculum and support structure geared to Britain’s top universities. Now, it is reinforcing this through a scheme helping prepare students earlier on in their school life.
It is taking part in the Researchers in Schools programme delivered by The Brilliant Club, an award-winning charity that helps widen access to highly-selective universities for pupils from under-represented groups. Their two flagship programmes, Researchers in Schools (RIS) and The Scholars Programme, employ more than 600 PhD researchers who have worked with more than 15,000 pupils over the past five years.
Under RIS, doctrate researchers and graduates are recruited, trained and placed in non-selective state schools across the country. Joining Harris South Norwood has been Angela Talarn Zaragoza, a trainee teacher in the Maths department. As part of the programme, she teaches Maths, but also runs a super-curricula course called Uni Pathways.
This is a two-year teacher-designed programme which supports a small group of Year 9 pupils (13 to 14-year olds), at least half of whom come from backgrounds typically under-represented at high-selective universities.
The Year 9 group receive a series of university-style tutorials based on Ms Talarn Zaragoza’s PhD which will enable them to develop their subject knowledge and confidence.
In addition, the students will be introduced to subjects outside the curriculum while becoming familiar with the way universities work.
As part of the programme, a party of students visited the Royal Holloway University. Ms Talarn Zaragoza, who gained a PhD and two masters degrees in Spain, explained, “I joined the programme because I want to show students that, regardless where you come from, it you work hard and study you can go to university and succeed in your field.”