The government of the United Kingdom announced July 31 its plans to invest millions of pounds in the development of improved foreign language programs for the country’s students. In addition to announcing further investments into pre-existing programs for Mandarin, French, German, and Spanish, the country is also introducing the Latin Excellence Programme, which will increase the amount of Latin courses offered at the country’s state schools.
“We know Latin has a reputation as an elitist subject which is only reserved for the privileged few. But the subject can bring so many benefits to young people, so I want to put an end to that divide,” said Gavin Williamson, the country’s education secretary. “Latin can help pupils with learning modern foreign languages, and bring broader benefits to other subjects, including maths and English.”
According to a British Council survey, Latin is not a widely offered subject in the country’s state schools. While the language is taught at Key Stage 3 (the period of schooling which includes Years 7 through 9) in 49% of independent schools, it is only taught in 2.7% of state schools. In an effort to develop the instructional materials necessary to implement the courses at state schools, the government has invested £4 million in the program. The government hopes to give millions more students the opportunity to study the language; the program will also include a series of cultural enrichment activities, such as trips to heritage sites in Rome.
“There should be no difference in what pupils learn at state schools and independent schools, which is why we have a relentless focus on raising school standards and ensuring all pupils study a broad, ambitious curriculum,” Williamson said.
The program will be modeled after the country’s Mandarin Excellence Programme, which was first launched in 2016, which has led to the development of Mandarin language programs in 75 state schools across the country. In addition to the £4 million investment in the Latin Excellence Programme, the government also announced that it was putting £16.4 million into the further development of the Mandarin Excellence Programme.