Believing that the traditional arguments for studying the Classics, however true, neglect the subject’s particular usefulness in a world so often described as ‘globalised’, the Classics Department aims to make the subject lively and relevant for all who study it, from beginners to A Level pupils, and to show how it offers a unique way of understanding any culture, not just our own.
Latin is studied by all pupils in their first year of Senior School, becoming thereafter a language option. The Cambridge Latin Course is the staple text book, and is continued through to its end, in Volume V. It provides a strong narrative thread as pupils follow the characters round the Roman world, and provides a good basis for mastering Latin grammar and vocabulary, though in both cases supplementary materials are also used.
The study of texts in the original is an important component of Latin GCSE and, of the three optional papers, pupils take the two literary ones: it is in reading Roman authors that pupils find that their understanding of language and historical background are really brought together.
For those among the Senior 8 Latin pupils who have participated in a Greek club in Senior 7, or who have studied Greek previously, this is an additional, optional course. Pupils follow John Taylor’s textbook, Greek to GCSE, through to the examination. The same principles apply as with Latin: the literary options are favoured. In addition, pupils are trained to become proficient in translating from English into Greek.
Much energy is put into Co-curricular activities; there is a trip abroad every year so that all year groups will have the opportunity to go on one of these during their Classical studies. There is also a programme of excursions at home which centres on a core of essential destinations such as Fishbourne and Bath. A Classics Club devotes itself to experimental archaeology. There are regular collaborations with other departments, for example to put on a play or to explore ancient science. The School has recently created a classical garden.
The two teaching staff are specialist Classicists and experienced teachers, committed to giving pupils a lasting enjoyment of the subject.