Panel accepted for CA2016

The CUCD education committee organises a joint panel with the Classical Association Teaching Board for the annual meeting of the Classical Association. We will be in Edinburgh from April 6-9 2016 with a panel on transition to university and between different levels at school and university.

Transition to the next stage: moving between and within school and university

(organiser: Helen Lovatt, University of Nottingham, chair of CUCD education committee)

Students often experience both their school and university careers as a series of discontinuous leaps from one level to the next. The leap between school and university can be particularly terrifying, but that between GCSE and A-level (especially without AS) and between first and second year, or beginners and intermediate language, can also be problematic. This panel explores problems and challenges in transition and asks what strategies can be adopted to help students deal with it. What is reasonable to expect at particular levels? Exam boards and university departments have contributed to the discussion about how far students should go at GCSE and A-level, but what do teachers feel about it? What information is available to those moving up to the next level and how can communication of expectations be improved? How are first year undergraduates introduced to university teaching and what can be done to improve their acclimatisation? What can universities learn from school transition and induction processes? The four papers gathered here address both school and university issues, with a particular focus on the transition between school and university. The aim is to enrich discussion of transition and encourage sharing of effective ideas between school and university teachers.

Gove’s Classicists: the impact of the current reforms of school qualifications on take-up at GCSE and A level

Steve Hunt (Cambridge, PGCE; CATB;

The UK Government has been encouraging more state schools to offer classical subjects with the intention of ‘levelling the playing field’ between state school and independently-educated students applying for classics at Russell Group Universities. The inclusion of ancient languages in the list of languages which can be taught at Key Stage 2, the inclusion of Latin, ancient Greek and Ancient History in the EBacc measure of school accountability and the award of a grant to train non-specialist classics teachers in state schools are all evidence of this the most positive support of classics in the state sector for many years.

More general educational reforms, particularly those affecting examinations, may, however, have a more negative impact. This paper considers whether the new examinations will be ‘fit for purpose’ in the eyes of students, teachers and other subject specialists. Do they prepare students for university study of classical subjects? Are they what we actually want? Will they make the study of classical subjects more or less attractive to students? What might an A level or GCSE look like in the future – if the subject community could influence qualification development?

From zero to hero: managing the transition to university-level study at the OU

Mair Lloyd and James Robson (Open University; and

The Open University is renowned for welcoming students who are new to higher education, as well as nurturing those with little or no recent experience of formal study. In this paper, we shall examine some of the methods and principles that guide curriculum design both for Level 1 (first year) students, who are new to university study, and also those beginning study at Level 2 (second year), this being the point at which OU students transition from a broad interdisciplinary study of the Arts to subject specific modules in Classical Studies.  Improving retention and progression rates has become a key university priority in recent years, so how are the suite of new Classical Studies modules rising to this challenge?  How do our new modules, such as the beginner’s-level Classical Latin: The Language of Ancient Rome, differ from their predecessors? And how is the OU aiming to cater for the new breed of fee-paying students? This paper will set Open University approaches in the context of results from a recent national survey of Latin and Greek teaching in UK universities along with views from Open University ab initio Latin students. As we hope to show, key to the success that the OU has enjoyed in meeting the challenges of transitional stages is the targeted use of IT and some innovative approaches to module design.

Student expectations and attitudes to learning in first year: a preliminary survey

Helen Lovatt (University of Nottingham;

This paper will report the results of a survey and focus groups which aim to find out what students expect on arrival at university to study classics, ancient history and classical civilisation degrees. What worries do they have? What different constituencies of students are there and how do their needs and expectations differ? What elements of university teaching and learning do students find difficult, intimidating, confusing? I will survey both students in a number of different departments and staff to find out what induction processes are used to ease transition, and how students are introduced to the skills necessary for university study. I will also survey literature on transition to higher education and investigate what distinctive challenges face Classics as a subject area.


Transitioning between school- and University-level Latin Learning: A Scottish Perspective

Alice König (St Andrews;

This paper will present findings from a research-project based at St Andrews, led by Drs Emma Buckley and Alice König ( Students are arriving to study Latin in Scottish universities with increasingly diverse knowledge bases. Differences between the content and demands of Higher and Advanced Higher, A-level, IB and other Latin qualifications (and between the approaches and resources available in different schools) mean that there is great variation in students’ experience, knowledge and skills, and some (in particular Higher/Advanced Higher students) struggle with the challenges of university-level teaching. For the last three years we have been assessing the linguistic strengths and weaknesses (real and perceived) of students from different educational backgrounds, by means of questionnaires and diagnostic tests at entry to and throughout their first year at St Andrews. We have also been monitoring their learning and performance throughout their second, third and fourth years. Our research has been carried out in dialogue with a similar project in the Modern Languages department at St Andrews; and we have engaged in regular discussions with colleagues at other Classics departments in Scotland, with Scottish school teachers, and with representatives from various qualifications authorities (north and south of the border). Our aim is to re-evaluate the respective needs of different bodies of students with a view to improving their experience of the transition between school- and university-level Latin learning. Our findings have implications not just for Scottish universities but for Classics departments and schools across the UK and beyond.


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