Each week, we will be focusing on a different department within the school. This week, Mr Holland offers an insight into Classics and Latin at Westonbirt.
“If, like me, you grew up in the seventies and eighties, then Latin was never likely to be a subject on offer in school. The whole idea of studying anything so old-fashioned as Classics, whether Latin or Greek, had completely gone out of fashion, and only a few teachers, who had been retrained to teach other subjects, might occasionally bring a little of their knowledge into mainstream classes.
Well, haven’t things changed! It may no longer be a subject that every teenager has to see right through to the end of Key Stage 4, it may no longer boast classes into double figures, but our education system, even in parts of the state sector have certainly begun to show signs of rehabilitating this most traditional of disciplines.
Here at Westonbirt, along with the linguistic skills pupils develop in Modern Languages, it is rewarding to watch them acquire a parallel knowledge of in-depth analysis of grammar and syntax, as well as dealing with the root-forms of so much vocabulary they will encounter in such diverse subjects as English, Spanish and History.
But that’s not all: Latin remains one of those subjects which, away from all the technical, grammatical content, is one that taps into some of the richest sources of stories and literature in human history, from the weird myths of the Greeks to the brilliant achievements of Athens, from Alexander’s great conquests to the bloodthirsty intrigues of Roman politics.
At Westonbirt, from Year 7, the girls are introduced to the whole range of this extraordinary heritage, and a good number are now taking the subject onto GCSE, and even A-level, where last year’s Head Girl, Kate Willey, achieved a well-deserved Grade A this summer.”