The Iris Project - Literacy through Latin

Manchester Literacy through Latin

We are delighted to have teamed up with Manchester University to set up an expansion of our Literacy through Latin scheme in October 2012!

Read more: Manchester Literacy through Latin

OCR Latin pilot

This school year, The Iris Project is launching a first-of-its kind project at Pegasus primary school in Blackbird Leys, Oxford, and St Saviours primary school in Brixton. For the school year 2012/13, these schools will receive Latin as part of the literacy curriculum for their year sixes using a brand new Latin course "Telling Tales in Latin" (due to be published by Souvenir Press in early 2013), which will lead to the pupils sitting the new OCR Entry Level Latin qualification. The pupils will receive Latin once a week for an hour as part of the school curriculum, and will sit the exam in the summer term. They will also complete a coursework assignment. This OCR pilot project is funded by "Classics for All". Latin at Pegasus school has been supported by "The Hamilton Trust" since 2009.

This will be the first time that state primary schools have learned Latin on the literacy time table towards an examination qualification. If successful, the scheme will be rolled out to pupils across the UK who are involved in The Iris Project's Literacy through Latin projects. The Literacy through Latin scheme has been serving state primary schools in London and Oxford's most deprived regions since 2006, offering thousands of pupils the opportunity to learn Latin as part of curriculum lessons. The Iris Project was the first organisation to run a scheme delivering Latin as part of the national literacy curriculum, and to focus especially on schools in deprived urban regions, where literacy levels are often low, and literacy skills 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 to instil a fascination for learning new languages. The scheme now runs in Swansea, Reading, Fife and Manchester too.

The effects of the Literacy through Latin scheme on KS2 literacy targets have already been recognised in the latest OFSTED report for St Saviours school in Brixton. The report states: “The school has a range of effective partnerships with external agencies, including the Iris Project, which, by teaching Year 5 pupils Latin, has made a strong contribution to those pupils’ improved writing.”

St Andrews Literacy through Latin

We are delighted to have teamed up with the University of St Andrews to set up an expansion of our Literacy through Latin scheme in 2012.

Latin students of the Department of Classics, as volunteers, teach Latin to pupils of several schools in the Fife area for one hour a week in the academic year. Latin is approached through the Iris Latin course (, which introduces Latin in a fun and engaging way, through storytelling, games, and interaction, and with specific reference to linguistic skills in English. In the next school year, the project will be opened up to other local schools in the Fife area.

Applications for volunteers for this year are now closed. We will advertise in 2014 for the following year. Interested local schools are invited to get in touch.

Literacy through Latin wins EU Language Label 2013!

We are delighted to announce that the Iris Literacy through Latin scheme has won the EU Language Label 2013 for innovative language teaching projects!

A judge visited St Saviours school in Brixton to see the project in action, and reported:

"This project provides an opportunity for young children to be introduced to Latin, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds and who may not have the opportunity to find out about Latin at any other time of their school career.  The teaching I saw was excellent, based on an exciting programme designed by the Iris project.  In my long career (primary) I have not seen children identifying, analysing and discussing grammar at such a high level as I saw at St. Saviours.'"

The European Label is an award that encourages new initiatives in the field of teaching and learning languages, rewarding new techniques in language teaching, spreading the knowledge of their existence and thereby promoting good practice. The Label is open to all aspects of education and training, regardless of age or methods used, with its main focus being to promote innovation in language teaching. By supporting innovative projects, at a local and national level, the Label seeks to raise the standards of language teaching across Europe. Each year, the Label is awarded to the most innovative language learning projects in each country participating in the scheme. It is co-ordinated by the European Commission, but managed by the individual Member States, with national juries deciding on detailed criteria.

For more information, please visit

Credit-bearing course at Glasgow University for Literacy through Latin

Go-ahead given for landmark educational programme to improve literacy through Latin

Classics students at the University of Glasgow will this year begin a new credit-bearing university course to teach Latin to local school pupils as part of a programme which aims to use the ancient language to improve pupil literacy rates.

This formalises the existing ‘Literacy through Latin’ programme, which has been running at the University for two years. Previously open to volunteers only, now it is being recognised as an official part of the university curriculum.

 From October undergraduate students from the University of Glasgow’s Classics course will be working in local schools as part of an innovative programme to introduce pupils to Latin language, grammar and culture.

The development is part of the Iris Project’s Literacy through Latin scheme, which aims to use Latin to boost literacy and linguistics skills in deprived urban regions around the UK. It represents a milestone for the Iris Project as it is the first time that the Literacy through Latin has been integrated into a credit-bearing university course.

The Literacy through Latin project runs non-credit-bearing courses in London, Oxford, Reading, Swansea and Fife. The Glasgow arm is coordinated by PhD students at the University of Glasgow and, uniquely, it forms an optional one year course for Classics Honours students at the University and an optional part of the curriculum chosen by the schools involved. In practice, the project will involve each student teaching one hour-long class per week throughout the school year.

Latin is the root of many modern European languages, such as French and Italian and English. Studies have shown that introduction to Latin can improve children’s ability to learn foreign languages, as well as improve literacy levels in English. Literacy through Latin uses storytelling, games and activities to introduce the nuts and bolts of Latin grammar, demonstrating the deep connections between Latin and English.

Glasgow University Classics Faculty said: "This new course shows our commitment to working with schools and communicating our knowledge to a wider audience. By making the voluntary programme into a credit-bearing course, we are also giving students the opportunity to gain new skills and experiences with increased support and feedback from staff. We hope that more school pupils will benefit from this fantastic project as a result".

Dr Lorna Robinson, Director of The Iris Project, said: "I am delighted about this exciting new development, which has come about through the inspiration and hard work of the University of Glasgow Classics department. Embedding it as a credit-bearing course will strengthen the programme enormously and help involve more students and enable more pupils to benefit".

Literacy through Latin has recently been awarded the EU Language Label 2013 for innovative language teaching projects. It is hoped that this development will provide a model for the rollout of similar partnerships across the UK.

The Iris Project
24 Green Ridges

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