“arduus ad solem et linguis micat ore trisulcis “having reached for the sun, he brandishes his three-forked tongue”

Virgil, The Aeneid

We want children to use Latin to unlock language and feel the thrill of the ancient world.

We want to banish forever the idea that anyone can be “bad at languages”. Often dismissed as a dead language, Latin is better described as an almost universal language that underpins so much of society, culture and of course language around the world today.

We firmly believe in lighting a fire under students and focusing on their enjoyment of the subject. Mastery of the Common Entrance syllabus is of course part of the goal but it is just as crucial to give children a real understanding of how and why Classics is so important to our history and culture and the way in which Latin can provide the key to all Indo-European languages.

Children start the subject in Year 6 beginning with the most fundamental aspects of the language with a strong focus on highlighting the ways in which Latin underpins so many modern languages.

We study several Roman and Greek myths, encouraging children to draw links between these and later literature. The myth of Pyramus and Thisbe, with all its similarities to Romeo and Juliet, is a particularly fun way to explore how the Classical world has informed our own culture.

We also explore the Roman world itself through the story of a family living in Pompeii, soon before the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Looking at daily life in the town, children create projects on all sorts of things, from chariot racing and gladiators to Roman food and dress.

In Years 7 and 8, children continue exploring the ancient world and begin to use more complicated grammar. The focus on grammar is particularly helpful to those who struggle with some elements of modern languages, as it constantly reinforces their learning in those subjects. Students read the story of Romulus and Remus in Latin and later start to form Latin sentences of their own. By the end of Year 7, children have covered most of the Common Entrance Level 2 syllabus and are able to use the latter part of Year 8 for practice.

Several children usually take Latin at Scholarship Level and there are extra clinics every week to support these. Others may also continue to Common Entrance Level 3 if they choose but this is not a departmental goal. Of course, we want all children to feel stretched but, for most, the Level 2 syllabus is more than wide enough and provides ample preparation for GCSE. This frees up more time for studying the classical world itself and allowing children to enjoy it, rather than spending too much time memorising tables!