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When in Rome...

Byline: By Sara Wallis

Everyone knows Rome wasn't built in a day but these school pupils are doing their best to recreate Roman life in just two weeks.

Everything from a gladiator fashion show to an authentic Roman feast will give pupils a taste of history outside the classroom.

It seems history lessons are not what they used to be. Instead of reciting the dates of various battles, these youngsters are getting into character as well as learning modern skills.

The pupils from Gateshead schools are taking part in a summer school with a difference run by Gateshead Council at the City Learning Centre, in conjunction with St Thomas More School.

The project, known as The Big Dig, involves 27 pupils selected from St Thomas More and six of its feeder schools trying their hand at everything that is Roman, from games and schools, to food and fashion.

The children will create a drama on a Roman theme and this will then be filmed then processed in a video-editing workshop.

They will also have a virtual-reality tour of a Roman fort and then write a news report to be presented to camera.

"It's really good fun," said SalomA Reay, 11, who will attend St Thomas More in September. "And it's a good chance to explore my new school.

"I'm most looking forward to the Roman buffet, which I think will be Italian food, which I love. Every day I go home and tell my mum everything we've been doing. It's all I talk about.

"One of my friends asked me if it wasn't a bit like going to school in the summer holidays but it's better than sitting at home and doing nothing."

The children will recreate Roman games and use green screen technology to film them "in" an amphitheatre.

Their works of religious education-based poetry will also be delivered to camera using the technology.

A day's visit to Vindolanda and the Roman Army Museum will complete their experience, along with the Roman buffet and a fashion show.

Computer-aided design and computer manufacturing skills will help the pupils create Roman coins, swords and helmets.

And to top it all off, everything will be filmed for a fly-on-the-wall DVD which will be screened to pupils and parents when school is back.

"I'm really looking forward to being in the DVD," says 11-year-old Thomas More pupil Anne-Marie McLeman, who has been given the Roman name Lucretia for the fortnight.

"The Roman games were fun and we've been learning lots of new things, like how to use cameras."

St Thomas More teacher Patricia Moore said: "The summer schools help with their transition into secondary school. They learn information technology skills but also inter-personal skills, such as teamwork. The idea is that they work together in team-building exercises.

"They will have to make their own Roman clothes for the fashion show and at the buffet they will not have plates. They will have to eat how the Romans ate.

"They also learn some Latin, history, religious education, drama and English, and have even been given Roman names. It works really well and everyone has a lot of fun."

Gateshead's education director Maggie Atkinson said: "Summer schools are one of the ways we and Gateshead schools seek to occupy young people over the long summer break.

"Schemes such as this give our students the chance to develop their skills in different settings and challenge them to see learning as a source of real excitement.

"The local education authority's and our schools' work with gifted and talented learners is attracting national notice and praise and this scheme is an excellent example of just how varied and fun learning can be."

For information on summer schools call Peter Stephenson at the Gateshead City Learning Centre on (0191) 499 5043. You can also visit www.gatesheadclc.co.uk
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 22, 2004
Words:640
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