School pupils bring language to life for The Duchess of Cornwall



Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall visited the Emmaus Catholic and Church of England Primary School recently, where she met with staff, pupils and student volunteers from the University of Sheffield’s Linguistics Society.

The Duchess of Cornwall has a long-standing interest in literacy and reading. Her Royal Highness is Patron of the National Literacy Trust and is involved in a number of charities that aim to support literacy and make reading and writing accessible to children and adults alike.

Her Royal Highness toured the school and got to see first-hand the activities that student volunteers from the University’s Linguistics Society run as part of Word Club, an after-school literacy and language project they specially developed for the children at Emmaus Primary School.

Linking in with the Key Stage 1 curriculum, students work with children from Year 1 and Year 2 in weekly language and literacy after-school club sessions. The students, who study English Language and Linguistics at University, help to develop the children’s confidence in speaking and self expression, help with reading and writing skills and above all bring the children together in a fun and dynamic learning environment.

The students spread their love of language by appealing to the children’s different learning styles by engaging them in games and activities such as Synonym Snakes, Onomatopoeia Theatre and language challenges based on classic game shows such as Family Fortunes.

During the visit, Her Royal Highness got the chance to see some of these activities in action, including the Atoms of Antonyms game. A particular favourite of the children, the game involves them wiggling around like ‘little particles in the universe’ until they meet their matching atomic partner who has a word which means the opposite from their own.

Stella McHugh, Manager of SheffieldVolunteering at the University of Sheffield, said: “Word Club is an opportunity for the students to share their passion for their degree subject as well as gain essential experience working with children. The students have enjoyed making a difference in the local community and, following the success of this year’s project, students will develop the project further with the school next year.

“The University is committed to raising aspirations and attainment and this is just one example of the many activities and projects that the University, its staff and students run to help regional school children realise their potential. We have been delighted to showcase this unique project to Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall, who we know is a keen advocate of literacy and reading.”

At the end of the tour of the school, Her Royal Highness was treated to a performance by the school choir and the University’s Hip Hop Dance Society. By performing at the school, the dance society was able to share their enthusiasm for Hip Hop and dance and, more importantly, were able to give a taste of university life and show the children that university can also be fun and sociable.

Huw Thomas, Headteacher, said of the visit: “We are all very excited at the visit of The Duchess of Cornwall. We couldn\’t have asked for better timing, with the Royal Wedding last Friday and then our own event today. The children watched the wedding Friday, saw the Duchess arrive at the abbey, then today they see her in person. It also meant we could keep the flags up for a few more days!

“The visit arose out of the school\’s work with the University of Sheffield. As well as being a great way of celebrating the school\’s achievements, this visit is recognition of the effective partnership the school has made with our University. It\’s a tribute to our children and families that our school has made such an impression and that we\’ve been selected for this visit.”