St James Schools
- The St James Schools were established in London in 1975 and one of the founding principles of these Schools was that the teaching of language was to be based on Sanskrit. Sanskrit is taught to all Junior School pupils. In the Senior Schools many pupils take the option of continuing with Sanskrit up to GCSE, AS and A Level, following which some students pursue the subject at university.
- The teaching of Sanskrit in the Junior School, as well as establishing the basic rules of grammar, emphasizes the beautiful sounding of vowels and consonants, together with precise and elegant writing of the letters.
- Each year the St James Junior School Sanskrit Speech Competition is held, during which each class recites by heart passages from spiritual Sanskrit classics, followed by an English translation.
Kamalesh Sharma, previously High Commissioner of India and now Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, speaking following a recitation by pupils of texts from the Rig Veda and Upanishads:
“The profound words that the children were learning by heart would be with them for life, and there is no greater gift they could receive.”
- The St James Schools have also trained and supported staff in eight associated schools around the world which currently include Sanskrit in their curriculum.
- In 1993 the St James Schools helped to establish a system of Sanskrit public examinations which are now set annually by the University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) in cooperation with St James.
- Nearly 2500 pupils from St James Schools over the years have enjoyed and benefited from the linguistic discipline of this language as well as the cultural learning experience it has provided.
The Independent Schools Inspectorate said of the teaching of Sanskrit at St James Junior School:
- Across the age range, pupils are wholly motivated, utterly absorbed in and intrigued by what they are doing. Their concentration is often intense and their behaviour is immaculate. Even the youngest pupils ask questions freely.
- Several pupils were audibly disappointed when their lesson had to end. One girl in Year 5 explained to the inspector, ‘I love Sanskrit. It is one of my favorite subjects – it is so exciting’.
- See the St James School website for more information www.stjamesschools.co.uk