Students may opt to study Latin in Year 8. In Years 8 and 9 students follow the Cambridge Latin Course’s fictionalised life of the Caecilius family, whose house in Pompeii is famous for its mosaic warning passers-by to ‘cave canem:’ beware of the dog. Students learn details of Roman daily life in Italy, Britain and Egypt in the first century AD. They learn the basics of Latin, enabling them to translate idiomatically and accurately and to appreciate the very many links between Latin and English and other languages. Students learn to assess the importance of the classics in modern culture, and they learn about who the Romans were, and how they saw themselves.
At GCSE students continue their learning of Latin vocabulary and grammar, and they are grammatically near-fluent by the end of Year 11. They continue to use the Cambridge Latin Course to learn about Roman religion, warfare, and (brutal) domestic politics. They also study Latin literature, reading parts of Virgil’s Aeneid, and the works of such prose authors as Cicero, Caesar and Tacitus.
At AS and A2 Level students read a variety of texts from across two centuries of Latin literature. In addition to class-based seminars and grammar work, students learn independently, in collaboration with the Cambridge Schools’ Classics Project, with particular support from the Latin Assistant, with whom they have individual tutorials. When there is demand, students may also study Ancient Greek informally.
Throughout all year groups we place a heavy emphasis on the Latin language as a gateway to Roman culture, however that is expressed. We ensure that students’ linguistic skills are also developed, enabling them to improve their understanding of how all languages, including English, work. We are fortunate to have a large number of electronic resources available, which are both used in lessons and available for students outside lesson times. There is nobody left whose first language is Latin, but the language is very much alive.