A CHARITY dedicated to enriching young minds through Latin and the classics is to open a permanent home at an Oxford school.

Cheney School has allocated space for the Iris project to open the East Oxford Community Classics Centre.

It will host events, workshops, lessons and exhibitions for students from October.

Pupils at the Headington school will be able to drop in at lunch-time and after school. Visitors will also be welcomed after school while outside speakers will give talks on the ancient world every fortnight.

Iris is also planning storytelling and drama performances twice a term, classics clubs for pupils and adult Latin sessions and workshops.

The charity, which sends student teachers into schools to teach Latin, will also host classics days once a term for Cheney pupils on subjects which overlap, like English and history.

There will be a space for exhibitions and a lending library of more than 500 books.

Iris Project director Dr Lorna Robinson is planning learning events for the summer and during and after school hours.

She said: “It is a really big step. It is a permanent presence. Now we have space where we can house books and objects, before they were just in an office. It will be accessible to everyone, of all age groups. We are really grateful to Cheney School.”

Some of the artefacts were found in Iffley and the displays will include an urn and plate fragments.

The project – named after the Roman goddess – was set up in 2006. Oxford schools which have taken part include Sandhills Primary School and Barton’s Bayards Primary Hill School are among schools which have welcomed the classes.

Dr Robinson said: “It enables people to really have contact with a subject that is often regarded as elite but is hugely fascinating. Latin has been shown in quite large studies to significantly help the reading age of children, it helps them understand grammar and where words come from.”

Cheney head of history David Gimson said: “I am really delighted that the East Oxford Community Classics Centre will be based at Cheney, and that primary and secondary pupils, and interested adults will be able to benefit from its programmes.”



  • In Greek mythology, Iris is the personification of the rainbow and messenger of the gods. She is also known as one of the goddesses of the sea and the sky. Iris links the gods to humanity. She travels with the speed of wind from one end of the world to the other and into the depths of the sea and the underworld
  • In 1921, Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games, borrowed a Latin phrase from his friend, Father Henri Didon, for the Olympic motto: Citius, Altius, Fortius (‘Swifter, Higher, Stronger’)
  • Between 60 and 70 per cent of all English words come from Latin
  • Up to 80 per cent of all words in other languages such as Spanish, French, and Italian come from Latin.