Cripes! Boris gives this teaching lark a go

4th June 2010 at 01:00
It's a case of veni, vidi, vici as the London mayor and classics campaigner gets rave reviews for his Latin lesson

Aminata vandy, 15, doesn't get her hair done for just any teacher, but when Boris Johnson dropped in to teach a one-off Latin lesson she wanted to look her best.

Aminata was one of 13 girls who took part in the lesson at St Saviour's and St Olave's CofE secondary in Southwark, south London, last week when her school played host to the London mayor and the latest chapter in his quest to get more of the capital's schools to take up the ancient language.

The Year 10 pupil is clearly already a convert. "My mum was worried about me coming to Latin after school because she thought it was interfering with my GCSEs," she said.

"But now she has seen the benefits and thinks it's really good. I told her this was going to happen so she did my hair. She got really excited.

"At first everyone was a bit nervous because we were meeting Boris Johnson, but the more he spoke to us the more calm it became."

Mr Johnson has long lobbied for Latin to be recognised as a language on the national curriculum.

And it was at an event to promote Latin in state schools at City Hall, home of the London Assembly, that English teacher Sophie Hollender met him and invited him to come and teach.

Ms Hollender said that the mayor had won over the whole school with his unorthodox approach. "He was absolutely fantastic. All the girls came in looking beautiful. We had TV crews there. There were 25 people in the room with us.

"Afterwards some of the girls were being interviewed outside with him, and all the girls in the other rooms lent out of the windows. He got waved off by 100 girls shouting 'Bye Bye Boris'."

Another pupil, Jaya Sawi, 15, clearly enjoyed the lesson.

"He was really energetic and didn't seem like he was trying too hard. He seemed really interested in it," she said.

"He taught us some things we didn't know, like the perfect tense of 'love'."

The secondary has been running after-school Latin lessons twice a week in partnership with a series of independent schools. Teachers from Dulwich College, James Allen's Girls School and Westminster School have volunteered to help.

The girls are studying towards a short GCSE in Latin. Ms Hollender covers the history side of the syllabus and a teacher and A-level students from Westminster School teach the language.

St Saviour's and St Olave's head Irene Bishop said Mr Johnson was a natural at the chalkface.

"I saw him teach. He has very good presence and very good subject knowledge; he made it fun. But he did say he found teaching very hard work."

Afterward Mr Johnson tweeted: "Have been teaching Latin to pupils at St. Saviour's St. Olave's this morning, a fantastic school in south London."

The usual Latin class was suspended that day and instead Ms Hollender brought in a giant chocolate cake for her pupils to share.

And what did the mayor write in the school visitors' book? "Possunt quia posse videntour" - They can because they believe they can.

Lingo bingo

Boris appellor et magister sum hodie - My name is Boris and I am your teacher today

Canis studia domestici devoravit - The dog ate my homework

Haud mea culpa, domina - It wasn't me, Miss

Ubi est latrina? - Where is the toilet?

Stilus amitae meae - The pen of my aunt

Quo usque ludus meus tablulis scolasticis perrexit? - Where does my school come in the league tables?

Antiquis temporibus, nati tibi similes in rupibus ventosissimis exponebantur ad necem - In the good old days, children like you were left to perish on windswept crags.

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