Improving our Key Stage 3 Latin curriculum (CLC 2 and Roman Britain)

I have never considered the strangeness of teaching a completely different subject at A-level than at KS3/ GCSE. Many Classics teachers will teach a mixture of Latin/ Greek and Class Civ/ Ancient History and like me, will enjoy doing so. It has only occurred to me this week quite how strange this is in the teaching world, the very different models of teaching required for different subjects, and the necessity for a Classics teacher to develop two different models of teaching different types of content (of course there is crossover, with History and Literature in Latin lessons too).

Having spent the last two years focused on the changes at A-level and GCSE, this year I have the space to reconsider my teaching of Latin at Key Stage Three. This week in a whole-school Twilight training evening, I worked with a fellow Lead Practitioner, Jake, a super inspiring Biology teacher, on Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction, and how subject areas can consider them in the context of their subject and develop a subject-based vision of effective teaching. Jake shared the following model, which he uses as the basis for his lessons:

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I have been thinking about how this applied to Latin and Classics, and, apart from definitely inspiring me to sharpen and vary my checkpoints, this does not feel too different to my GCSE and A-level lessons, albeit not as something I have though too explicitly about. GCSE Latin has a great deal of grammar, each aspect with its own nuances, rules, and exceptions to its own rules.

But when I think of Key Stage Three Latin, I struggle to see it in the same way. When comparing KS3 and KS4 Latin (at least how we teach it at our school), the differences that spring to mind are:

time: KS3 students have two 50 minute lessons per fortnight, KS4 students have 3x 100 minute lessons per fortnight.

course: The Cambridge Latin Course is a reading course, with lots of stories for practising new grammar. On average it takes about a half-term to study one Stage (more is possible but I find this is the optimum for not overloading students and giving time to comprehend and read the stories in a meaningful fashion and explore the civ), which means acquiring about two new grammatical structures per half-term. The GCSE Latin course is also reading based, but with much more grammar to learn in between.

In Key Stage Three Latin then, it is not so much about content being learned every lesson, but about revisiting past (grammar and civ) content, reading Latin, and investigating the content of the stories in the context of the Roman World. It has got me thinking that a model for Key Stage 3 learning would help ease the cognitive load of KS3 planning, and provide more clarity for students on the different aspects of the CLC course and what they are expected to know, in preparation for them sitting the CLC Book 2 (Stage 16) certificate in April/ May.

There is a lot of work to do here, and my first priority has been to create knowledge organisers for the Class Civ aspect of the course, both to improve my own knowledge of Roman Britain (which I have never studied formally, and has always seemed faintly depressing: see picture below from Stage 13. The people remind me too much of myself without recourse to hair products or make-up, which makes sense).  Presentation2I am now however a Roman Britain convert, and realise that my distaste came from my insecurity in teaching a topic I knew little about. The knowledge organisers (below is the first one, for Stage 13) will be for the students to revise the key facts of the topic, but were far more helpful for me for considering what the ‘core’ (essential) knowledge was, and the ‘hinterland’ which Christine Counsell describes as “The little examples, the stories, the illustrations, the richness, the dwelling on this but not that, you know, and the times when you as a teacher go off-piste with your passion”. We are creating a clear core, and I am building my hinterland for Roman Britain. With this new-found confidence in my subject knowledge, I look forward to planning a lesson for Year 9 this week on how Romanisation affected British Iron Age society: something I have taught many times before, this time it will be with a clearer focus on exactly what I want students to learn (including related key vocabulary), which will give me more confidence in checking their understanding, correcting misconceptions, and ensuring that they learn.

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amo amas amat

Lead Practitioner of Latin and Classics at a comprehensive state school in East London.

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