Kiss of life for a dead language

John Phillips CHILDREN S laureate Michael Rosen, 62, author of 140 books, is seeking to make Latin more accessible and recently popped in to Barking Abbey School, Sandringham Road, to record pupils getting to grips with ancient language through a school classics projec

John Phillips

CHILDREN'S laureate Michael Rosen, 62, author of 140 books, is seeking to make Latin more accessible and recently popped in to Barking Abbey School, Sandringham Road, to record pupils getting to grips with ancient language through a school classics project, backed by Cambridge University.

Their interviews will form part of an edition of Word of Mouth, a BBC Radio 4 show delving into all aspects of the English language.

Barking Abbey librarian Julie Baisden is helping the year eight pupils familiarise themselves with the dead language taught at GCSE level at just 686 schools in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.


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Mrs Baisden acknowledged the Barking Abbey taster courses will not take the students - keen to devour the works of Virgil and Horace - up to GCSE level.

But help is coming from education experts on the Welsh exam board, who have been helping Cambridge University devise an alternative qualification to GCSE Latin.

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It is hoped the more accessible level two certificate, Cambridge University says is equivalent to a GCSE, could be studied from this September.

Mrs Baisden said: "It's very, very difficult. GCSE Latin is very hard. Statistics show that if you get an E, it is equivalent to a C in another subject.

"They're looking at it at the moment, in conjunction with the Welsh exam board, to find out why it is so hard"

The pupils took lunch with Michael after the recording sessions and will soon enjoy hearing the sound of their voices, in Latin, on Radio 4.

Mrs Baisden added: "Michael is a wonderful man. He has such a rapport with the children. He is funny,and he doesn't talk down to the children.

"He's on their wavelength. He is children's laureate at the moment and this is well deserved."

Word of Mouth with the Barking Abbey School contribution airs on Tuesday, April 21, at 4.02pm.

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