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Aims & Philosophy of the Latin & Greek Department

κτῆμα  ἐς αἰεί - “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 5 Curriculum

Both Latin and Greek are available as full A level courses.

By the time girls reach the Sixth Form, they have a comprehensive overview of much of Latin and Greek grammar. The remaining features and constructions (largely involving the subjunctive) can now be slotted in with comparative ease. The girls are now also taught to translate into the classical language; even if they opt not to do this in the examination, it is a skill which strengthens their grasp on the inflections and gives them confidence when tackling unseen translations. Once again, John Taylor’s textbooks are our primary resource, and we supplement them freely with our own materials.

As at GCSE, set texts continue to be important. We use David Carter’s splendid Classical Workbooks, which give the girls ample space to write down the translations and their own notes, while enabling them to keep all their materials together. The current set texts include law-court speeches by Cicero, subversive political comedy by Aristophanes, and a selection of Ovid’s love poetry which proved racy enough to provoke an outcry in the national press.

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.

To learn about the Latin & Greek Department
curriculum in other Key Stages please choose a link