Latin figures strongly in the academic life of the school. The Classics department aims to provide pupils with an environment in which they feel motivated to learn the language and study Roman culture.
Learning Latin should be stimulating, enjoyable but personally challenging. Every pupil should feel comfortable with the level at which they are working, confident that they can succeed at that level. Pupils study Latin from Form V (Year 4), building their knowledge and skills gradually in preparation for Common Entrance. Differentiated materials mean that nearly all the school’s pupils achieve a pass in this subject at one of the three levels offered at Common Entrance or at Scholarship level.
The Latin course has been developed with the age and experience of the pupils at its centre. Work in Form V (year 4) is designed to foster an immediate enthusiasm for the subject and set it in a historical context. The course work is a balance between such areas of Roman culture as food and entertainment, chariots and gladiators, Greek mythology and a sprinkling of Latin vocabulary.
In Forms IV - I (years 5 - 8), language work begins in earnest. R.C.Bass' Ab Initio series of coursebooks forms the basis of linguistic studies, supplemented with home-produced materials. A website www.quia.com/pages/benlatin.html developed by the department, iPad apps called Pipiatum, Chegg Flashcards and Socrative plus an interactive program, Nil Desperandum are used to enhance the teaching of the subject.
Although success at Common Entrance is our main focus, pupils who can see the relevance of what they are studying are better motivated to learn. Latin offers many important incentives: a better understanding of the terminology used in all linguistic studies, a connection between Latin roots and other languages (particularly English) and an opportunity to study an interesting culture and compare it with modern day life.
Classical Greek has proved a popular addition to the curriculum as part of the school's evening activities programme. It is a two-year course designed to prepare committed pupils for the Common Entrance Greek Level 1 paper.