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Aims & Philosophy of the Latin & Greek Department

“A possession for all time” (Thucydides)

Learning Latin or Greek is a great adventure. Everyone is always fascinated by the Greeks and the Romans, and their civilisation and culture – at once so similar to, and so different from, our own – continue to influence the modern world. From the latest Hollywood epic to the most serious political concerns, our whole way of thinking looks back to and draws strength from the great writers of Greece and Rome. The Classics Department at Queen Margaret’s is committed to opening the door to the ancient world and allowing every girl to experience its inspiring landscape for herself.

Overview of Key Stage 3 Curriculum

All girls study Latin in Years I and II, and we use the popular and successful Cambridge Latin Course. 

In Year I, the course introduces the basics of Latin grammar, allowing the girls to assimilate a number of key terms without overwhelming them with technicalities. At the same time we follow the fortunes of a Roman family in the city of Pompeii, and learn about what it was like to be a Roman. We investigate a wide selection of topics, ranging from fashion and food to education and slavery, and the girls are encouraged to draw parallels with their own lives in order to understand modern civilisation better.

In Year II the girls meet more advanced grammatical features, and their study of the historical background broadens out to include life both in Roman Britain and in Alexandria.

In Year III, many girls choose to continue their study of Latin, and there is also the opportunity for girls new to the school to start the subject from scratch.  They follow an accelerated course which soon allows them to catch up with the rest of the class. By the end of Year III we have finished the Cambridge Latin Course Book III, and over half of the grammar and syntax needed for GCSE has been covered.

Girls may also opt to take Ancient Greek in Year III. The course is fast-paced and stimulating, and we assume no previous knowledge of the language.

What makes the department unique from those at other schools?

We pride ourselves on our ability to cater for the individual. We are unusual in being able to offer Greek, Latin and Classical Civilisation as fully timetabled subjects at GCSE and A level, especially given the relatively small size of the school as a whole. As a consequence, classes tend to be small, allowing much greater interaction between pupils and teachers, and also allowing us to tailor what we teach to the interests and requirements of individual girls. GCSE Greek, for example, may be offered as a possibility in the Sixth Form, or extra lessons given to Oxbridge candidates.

The location of Queen Margaret’s also enables us to take advantage of a wide range of extra-curricular events across the country. Visits to Hadrian’s Wall, to the undercroft of York Minster, and to the British Museum are regular features of life in the department. We are also close enough to be able to attend lectures and study days at the universities of Leeds, Newcastle, Birmingham, and Manchester, and productions of Classical plays in London, Oxford, and Cambridge. There have also been highly successful trips to Pompeii and Athens in recent years.

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