41st JACT Latin Summer School – 2021 Director’s Report

What a relief, what a deep deep sigh of relief on July 12th when the government confirmed to the public that the “final” step out of lockdown was to be taken the following Monday, the day we were due to begin our first ever Latin Camp at Harrogate Ladies’ College. We had 136 students joining us live, our 3rd biggest cohort ever, and just 2-3 remotely (as flies on the wall of the live classes) because they had been required to isolate just before we started or could not make it over from abroad. As usual it was an excellent cohort, perhaps especially robust and excited about the recently restored freedom to partake in such events. We were able to provide something pretty close to the norm though obviously various Covid safety measures were in place to minimise risk; these collectively seemed to work and mercifully we did not have a single positive result across the four NHS-logged LFTs taken by everyone over the fortnight.

Unsurprisingly we had very few overseas students this Summer, though a couple made the seriously impressive commitment to fly over ahead and undertake the requisite isolation period prior to joining us. We had a similar U18:O18 ratio with 73% of our students of school age, of whom roughly a third were from the state sector.


Staff and Teaching

It was a relatively large team this year to ensure groups small enough to be able to socially distance in lessons.

Back on the tutor team this year were:

·       Mish Bancroft

·       Naomi Bradshaw

·       Lindsey Cullen

·       Lloyd Hopkins

·       Dick Mowbray

·       Laura Snook

·       Tarika Sullivan

·       Hayley Walker

We also had a huge injection of new blood this Summer

·       Maria Bergquist

·       Natasha Crook

·       Peter Donnelly

·       Rachel Hambly

·       Xavier Pollock

·       Rachel Starling

·       Rosie Sykes

·       Ollie Thicknesse

·       Laura Warren

·       Amy Winstock

Johnny Boyd came back as my assistant and performed that role to the same meticulous high standard I came to enjoy in 2019. Dick Mowbray and Lindsey Cullen performed the assistant director roles (academic and student welfare respectively), keeping me relatively free to focus not on individuals but on the overall running of Camp, and Lindsey’s other role from 2020, as tutor i/c remote learning, was mercifully not needed this time round.

Please look on the website under “our courses” for details on what we offer. Once again we had groups from complete beginners tackling the traditional and totally uncompromising So You Really Want to Learn Latin course aiming to cover all the essential grammar of current GCSE specifications and sit an actual past language paper at the end, to GCSE students who mainly focused on readers and other selections of the finest extant Roman literature reading more widely than they would have time for in school, to A Level students reading rather more demanding and “left field” texts (Lucan 7, for example, or Seneca’s Thyestes) which they are highly unlikely to have met before to provide themselves with that edge for high-end university applications.

I was also delighted to see roughly 20 join our new teachers’ courses; these are bespoke courses for people who are about to embark upon a PGCE or are indeed already working in a school without much Latin teaching experience. I am very grateful to Classics for All for the funding they provide to help enable teachers at or about to join state schools to attend.

The grammar clinics ran live in the traditional fashion though moving forward we are going to add a third rung of clinics to address the increasingly diverse school experiences of our school-age students in particular.


Lectures, Trips and Events

We do our best to offer a lecture programme which appeals to those who are new to Latin and those who have studied it for several years. 

Dr. Anthony Bowen once again opened with his “Sound of Latin” talk. Prof. Costas Panayotakis gave a new talk on Cupid and Psyche as presented by Apuleius. Dr. Ben Kane once again taught us about the life of a Roman soldier though with specific reference to Hadrian’s Wall. Prof. Matthew Leigh also returned, this time to present on some brand new research and a modernised translation he has just written on Plautus’ Pseudolus. Dr. Zara Chadha spoke to us about references to magic in Latin literature and Prof. Llew Morgan spoke to us about various metres in Latin poetry. (And whether metre is any fun!) Prof. Carrie Vout closed the programme with “The Art of Being Roman Emperor” and various material sources which show us the nature of various emperors’ propaganda.

Harrogate is close enough to Hadrian’s Wall to enable a day trip on the middle Sunday and (perhaps surprisingly, given the departure time of 6.00am) more than 100 Campers signed up. We began with the 2-hour walk from Steel Rigg to Housesteads, the Roman auxiliary fort; there we were met by our local guides who showed us round there before taking us to the fort at Vindolanda as well as the Roman Army Museum.

On the second Wednesday the entirety of Latin Camp went to York. As well as free time to enjoy that beautiful city, we had pre-booked visits to a combination of Roman and non-Roman venues. Much of the legionary fortress is unviewable, buried under modern York, but we were able to view a military bathhouse as well as various individual features scattered around the city. York Minster, as well as being a beautiful building worth viewing in its own right, has in its Undercroft a history of York starting with the Romans. We also visited the Jorvik Centre, containing lifelike mannequins and life-size dioramas depicting Viking life in the city through which the viewer is carried in small carriages equipped with speakers.

It was wonderful to be able to reintroduce our various Twitter and Instagram competitions (best selfie, best photo of Harrogate, Hadrian’s Wall and York) and of course the best costumes from the last-night party. We decided that running our usual quiz night live would be an unnecessary Covid risk (given that we were keeping the different teaching groups as separate as possible) so as in 2020 we produced a remote version on Kahoot.


Acknowledgement and Thanks

This year I awarded £12630 for 22 free or subsidised places; it is always very important to us that we make the Summer School and the learning of Latin as accessible as possible and we welcome applications from all educational levels and backgrounds. The sponsorship we are so generously given not only allows us to provide places to those who would not be able to come otherwise but it also helps us keep fees down overall and replenish textbooks, among other ongoing expenses. I would like to thank those sponsors whose generosity helps makes this possible:

  • The Classical Association
  • Faculty of Classics at the University of Cambridge
  • The Craven Committee, University of Oxford
  • The Jowett Copyright Trustees
  • Trinity College, Cambridge
  • Classics for All

The 42nd JACT Latin Summer School will run from Monday 18th to Saturday 30th July 2022, again at Harrogate Ladies College. The website www.latincamp.co.uk continues to be the key source of information and contains a very simple online application form. If you have any questions at all after reading this, please do get in touch with me on d.stephenson@warwickschool.org.

Once more, my warmest thanks to all those who have served Latin Camp so well this year, and in many cases for many years before. It really would not matter how well or badly I ran it if the quality of staff who give up holiday time were not so spectacularly high.

David Stephenson

Director JACT Latin Summer School