A 'dead' language brought classrooms to life at an Oxford school.
Younger pupils at Cheney School, which already offers Latin and Ancient Greek among its language courses, were introduced to Latin as part of the Iris project, a classics project which aims to make the subject more appealing to state school pupils.
The Living Classics workshops are taking place across the country and are run by Oxford University graduate Dr Lorna Robinson.
The workshops see two Royal Shakespeare Company actors - Richard Darbourne and Paul O'Mahony - engage children in a wide variety of activities from re-enacting ancient battle scenes to learning Greek words. Dr Robinson, who last year left her teaching job at a public school in Berkshire and made it her mission to promote the classics in state schools through the Iris project, said the Cheney pupils loved the workshops.
She said: "The children really enjoyed themselves and had a lot of fun. It definitely got them thinking about a lot of things and they learned about the history behind words which they hadn't necessarily realised stemmed from Greek or Latin.
"The children certainly had lots of questions to ask afterwards.
She added: "The workshops are very active. Children are often sat behind desks in lessons and do not get involved, whereas this is not the case with the workshops."
Dr Robinson said the actors' energetic performances had captured the children's imagination, saying: "The actors are very lively and energetic and use a mixture of Latin, modern storytelling, drama and Classical myth.
"The feedback on their performances has been phenomenal. Their vivid, interactive and bizarre approach to introducing Latin has been a wonderful success in schools at all levels."
The actors ran a series of five one-hour interactive workshops for all Year Seven pupils at Cheney School. Among the activities was role-playing in a battle scene between the Greeks and Persians, in which they learnt the history of the marathon.
For information about Iris, see www.irismagazine.org To arrange a workshop at a school, email Dr Robinson on lornarobinson AT irismagazine.org
For the record, my own copy of Iris just arrived in the mail yesterday ... we'll give y'all a review of it on Sunday or so; initial quick look as I headed off to my kid's football practice suggests it looks like something that Latin teachers on this side of the pond might find nice to have ...