Swansea students help teach local schoolchildren literacy through ancient history

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Swansea students are helping local schoolchildren with their literacy, through teaching them about the ancient world, as part of a programme run by the College of Arts and Humanities.

The “Literacy through Ancient History” programme involves around 25 students from Arts and Humanities, mostly from History and Classics, working in the classroom for a term with over 100 children from 4 primary schools in Neath Port Talbot.    

The students are supporting the teachers as they teach the children the “Gods and Gladiators” part of the curriculum.

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Picture:  children on a field trip to Caerleon Roman fort, as part of the programme

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The classes include exercises aimed at boosting the children’s literacy, but they also involve bringing history alive through dressing the children up in period costume, and activities such as making Roman bread, and practising Roman military drills.  

Primary schools involved are all in Communities First areas in Neath Port Talbot:

Our students are also working with pupils at Bishop Vaughan Comprehensive School in Swansea.  

Literacy through LatinPicture:  literacy through ancient history (Pater = Father)

The scheme draws on support from the South West Wales Classical Association, and the Reaching Wider Partnership, based at Swansea University, which provides learning opportunities and courses for children in Communities First areas.   

Cymer Afan teacher Cara Jones says:

“The whole class look forward to the students coming in to work with them and I’m learning a lot about the Romans with the children”

Dr Evelien Bracke, from the History and Classics department at Swansea University, co-ordinates the programme, and explained the benefits it brings to the students:

“Taking part in the programme gives our students a huge amount of self-confidence.    Being in the classroom and working with the children teaches them valuable skills which can boost their CVs, or improve their chances if they want to do a PGCE and train for teaching”

Kids with Roman style slatesPicture: children having a Roman-style lesson, with togas and games.

Alex Dyer, one of the students taking part in the programme, said:

“The final activity of the day involved us getting out of our togas (finally!) and allowing the pupils to dress up a nominee from each table. This gave me the opportunity to stand back for a minute and absorb the environment. Laughter and smiles filled the room and there was a sudden realisation that this was because of us and the lesson we had taught.

Student Chloe Scott, who also took part, said:

“Teaching in Penafan School has been both challenging and rewarding, but the overall experience has taught me a lot which is helping me understand how to become a better teacher.”

Once the classes come to an end, the links with the schools will remain.  They have already been invited to an ancient technology workshop in 2015, where they can learn more about cooking and medicine in ancient Greece and Rome.

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