Languages – Ad hoc Latin club has ‘cult’ appeal

Members achieve impressive results without qualified teacher

Students at an East Dunbartonshire secondary are scoring top grades in Latin – even though the school has no qualified teacher in the subject and no timetabled classes.

Bearsden Academy depute headteacher Annette MacKay said that Latin has become a “cult” favourite among high-achieving students since an after-school club was set up in 2011-12.

Five students sat Intermediate 1 Latin that year, with another five doing so last year – and all achieved the highest award of A at band 1. Both times they were the only Intermediate 1 Latin candidates anywhere in Scotland. One student even took Intermediate 2 last year, also earning an A at band 1.

The club, which meets for about an hour every second week, was set up at the request of a student who wanted to study at Oxbridge. Ms MacKay had told the student, Anna McDonald, that her application could do with “something to make it stand out”, and suggested Latin or Mandarin – although “whether I could find someone to teach it was another matter”.

The club that emerged has proved attractive to aspiring law, medicine and languages students. It is run by Ms MacKay, who read languages at university but whose last sustained experience of Latin was sitting the Higher some years ago. In the first year, a regular group of eight S6 students worked through Cambridge Latin Course textbooks. There were nine regulars last year and Ms MacKay expects a similar number in 2013-14………….

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