by Evelien Bracke
I recently gave a presentation about the state of Classics in Welsh schools at the CA conference. At first glance, Classics is very much marginalised in Wales: no teacher training exists, only 11% of secondary schools offer Latin with a similar number offering non-linguistic Classics subjects, very few primaries offer it at all, and there is a wide north-south divide. Moreover, in many of the schools where Classics – in whatever shape, whether linguistic or not – is offered, the subject is under pressure (teachers not replaced when they leave, lack of students due to a crowded curriculum, teachers lacking awareness of its uses,…).
The South West Wales Classical Association organises lots of community events in South Wales (see my previous post). Through this we continue to increase awareness among local communities, yet impact remains, unavoidably, local.
I said at the CA that I look with envy at Classics in England. However, the recent establishment of the Cymru Wales Classics Hub (CWCH) has already led to exciting and encouraging developments: it has brought teachers together from all over (at least South and Mid) Wales in a dynamic and passionate group. Swansea University hosted our first inset day in November 2015 and first annual conference in February of this year. The three universities offering Classics in Wales – Swansea, Cardiff, and Trinity Saint David – have now decided to collaborate by hosting events alternately so teachers can benefit from the expertise of different institutions and there is a stronger geographical spread. We have also set up a working group on Classics through the medium of Welsh (an important requirement if we want to put Classics back on the curriculum).
Meiros Richardson (centre) receives the award for most innovative teacher at the first CWCH conference, with Evelien Bracke and Kyle Erickson (Head of Classics at University of Wales Trinity Saint David)
CWCH was initially set up in preparation for my meeting with the Welsh Minister for Education, Huw Lewis, in November 2015, to discuss the possibility of re-introducing Classics into the Welsh curriculum and teacher training. Thanks to generous funding and support from the Classical Association and Classics for All, CWCH can now start building onto the foundations that are already present in Wales and work together with the Welsh Government on hopefully introducing Classics at primary and secondary school in some shape or form in the next five years (though with several elections in the meantime, anything can still change, of course). We are currently planning the following for 2016-2017:
- translation of Latin-English resources into Welsh and creation of new resources (May 2016)
- second inset day at Cardiff University (September 2016)
- Latin teaching starting in a pioneer school to be used as a model for others in Wales (starts September 2016)
- Latin weekend workshop for existing school teachers interested in offering it. Teachers will be given a mentor and invited to attend our other events (2016-2017)
- second annual conference at Gregynog (February 2017)
- Latin workshops for PGCE students of other subjects in South and North Wales (February 2017)
- third inset day at Trinity Saint David (late 2017)
Lots of exciting developments are thus ahead of us, and we look forward to the next steps.
For more information, please visit our website. All our events will be advertised there as well as by the Classical Association and on social media (twitter: @Evelien_Bracke).
If you would like to stay informed on teaching and learning of Classics in Wales, please do join our mailing list. Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org you would like to send an email to reach all participants of the group. If you have any questions or would like to get involved, feel free to email me (email@example.com).
Dr Evelien Bracke is Senior Lecturer in Classics and School Liaison Officer in the Department of History and Classics at the University of Swansea. She is also Chair of the South West Wales branch of the Classical Association and Co-ordinator of the Literacy through Classics Project.
The Classical Association has recently awarded a grant of £10,000 over two years to the Cymru Wales Classics Hub in support of its programme of activities in 2016 and 2017.