A NORTH-EAST school took a step back in time as children explored the culture and history surrounding the language of Ancient Rome.

Pupils at Polam Hall School, in Darlington, donned sandals and togas for a special Latin Afternoon as they learned more about the legacy of the Roman Empire.

Teacher Emma-Jo Blundy, who organised the event, said: “We believe there is great value in keeping Latin in the curriculum. Many English words have their roots in Latin, so studying it improves our pupils’ grasp of grammar and supports their understanding of their own language.

“There’s a lot more Latin still around us than people realise, and highlighting this to the pupils really helps with things like growing their vocabularies. They find it interesting too.”

As well as coming in Roman fancy dress, each of the school’s junior classes took part in different Latin-themed activities, including making laurel wreath crowns, constructing their own ‘tabulas’ – Roman writing tablets – from card and plasticine, and counting using Roman numerals.

Students also learned to sing The Beatles’ classic hit Here Comes the Sun in Latin, titled ‘Ecce, Venit Sol’.

Year 6 pupil Caleb Smith said: “It’s been a really fun day. Latin kind of links in with English, so you can understand more about English by learning where some words come from. It can be very useful.”

Classmate Racheal McCann added: “Today’s been better than just studying the language itself, because we’ve learned more about how the Romans lived, how they dressed, and things like that.

“If you just learn how they spoke, you’re not really understanding anything about how they lived and who they really were. We know a lot more about them as people now.”

Polam Hall School reintroduced Latin for Reception to Year 6 pupils in 2018, after research published by the University of Oxford concluded that studying the language boosted children’s understanding of multiple subjects.

Principal Kate Reid said: “We were very proud to reintroduce Latin to Polam Hall just a few years ago, through the Minimus teaching scheme and with generous funding from Classics For All North.

“It’s been wonderful to see what a positive impact it has had on the pupils’ understanding of language, and on their appreciation of culture – Latin gives us an excellent entry point to all the incredible art, literature, history and philosophy that the Romans left for us.

“The children have taken to the Latin Afternoon brilliantly. They’ve really shown us they understand the Latin phrase ‘carpe diem’ – they’ve ‘seized the day’ with aplomb.”