A case of de-Famation, perhaps?

2nd June 1995 at 01:00
The Romans had a mythical personage called Fama whose job was to spread misinformation. She has been hard at work on my recent speech on classics.

I did not urge schools to teach Latin to eight-year-olds, let alone infants (Robert Evans, TES, May 19). I drew attention to successful programmes in the United States where Latin is taught to 10 and 11-year-olds in inner cities, and merely wondered whether any school in this country would be interested in giving it a try. A major effect of these programmes is to speed up the later acquisition of Romance languages - ironically, the cause which Robert Evans is trying to promote.

Nor did I suggest that Latin was just for an "educated elite". Again, my point was the exact opposite: a regret that Latin appears to have lost out in the widening of educational opportunities since 1944. When the classics department of a leading independent school has 16 staff and at least one English county has none, what price equality of opportunity?

But it is encouraging to know that ancient languages can still inspire such contemporary passions.

NICHOLAS TATE

School Curriculum and Assessment Authority Newcombe House 45 Notting Hill Gate London W11

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