Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Prof Mary Beard backs school Classics funding appeal

Gina Johnson and High Storrs students on a recent trip Image copyright High Storrs School
Image caption High Storrs Classical Civilisation students on a field trip with teacher Gina Johnson

Renowned Classics scholar Mary Beard has backed a state school's efforts to raise £100,000 in a bid for it to continue teaching Latin and Classics.

High Storrs School in Sheffield said running courses for the small classes is "no longer financially viable".

The crowd funding campaign has already raised more than £5,000.

Prof Beard, professor of Classics at Cambridge University, said: "I am right behind any efforts to keep classical subjects in schools."

High Storrs is thought to be the only state school in Sheffield still offering Classics and Latin as subjects, although class sizes are small.

Teacher Gina Johnson said she launched the appeal after learning the school could not fund a GCSE Latin class due to start next September despite 16 pupils enrolling for the subject.

She said achieving the total would mean the school could subsidise classes for about a decade.

Image caption Professor Mary Beard is credited with popularising classical history through her many TV programmes and books

"I went away feeling pretty desperate and thought that what we really needed was a pot of money that we could draw on to subsidise small groups in school," Ms Johnson said.

"Learning Latin leads to learning about the Romans and I do not think anybody would argue that the Romans were not one of the most influential societies in the world."

Head teacher Claire Tasker said: "For a GCSE subject to run they have to have enough students in the class.

"We have interest in Classics and Latin but sometimes not enough to make a group viable."


What is Classics?

  • Typically, both GCSE and A Level syllabuses cover Greek and/or Roman civilisations
  • Students may study Greek or Roman history, literature and visual arts or a broader introduction to achievements of the classical world
  • Some exam boards also cover the archaeology, architecture, politics and philosophy
  • Aspects of classical civilisation significant in modern world development can also feature
  • Primary classical sources - translations or physical evidence - are used to learn about Greek/Roman society and values

Source: OCR and AQA exam boards


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