Classics – Latin

Pupils are introduced to Latin in Year 6, building on their study of English and French to develop their keen linguistic skills. Pupils relish the chance to explore the roots of English words in Latin, expanding their vocabulary and their understanding of the links between other European languages. Latin answers many questions for them, from the apparently bizarre spelling of English words like ‘debt’ to the precise nature of an ‘extra-terrestrial’ being to the significance of the statue of the Emperor Constantine outside York Minster which they can see from their classroom window.

Latin demands a detailed, structured and methodical approach to language, teaching pupils to analyse skilfully and to express themselves with precision and clarity. As they progress through to Year 8, pupils gain an appreciation of how Roman writers used this complex and beautiful language to reflect on their extraordinary history and society. Pupils enjoy the window Latin gives them into a civilisation which still exerts a huge influence on our own, both by contrast and in continuity with our modern world.

Underpinning all these strands of the Latin course are the wonderful tales of Greek and Roman mythology. Pupils respond with fascination and creativity to these tales of gods, heroes and monsters, exploring the power of stories to define our place in the cosmos.

Through their three years of studying Latin, pupils follow the Common Entrance syllabus to Level 2, with opportunities in Year 8 for those taking scholarship exams or, for those with a particular aptitude, to undertake more advanced work. Elementary Greek is studied in Year 8 as an extra linguistic challenge, with the joy of learning a different alphabet and expanding yet further the pupils’ understanding of the linguistic and cultural foundations of Western civilisation.