Back

Classics

The Classics Department is committed to offering a stimulating and rewarding Classical education for boys from Years 7 to 13. We use language, literature and our own artefacts to access the fascinating history of ancient civilisations in the classroom and we offer as many opportunities as possible to take pupils on trips to see Classical wonders first-hand. 

We passionately believe that our subjects can prepare the students at Watford Grammar for any future that they may dream of. They will develop a wide range of skills, which will be applicable to any academic or career path. The study of the Latin language creates highly analytical and curious learners, as they are taught to both focus on the details of grammar and evaluate ancient literature in its original form. The variety of topics taught in Classical Civilisation, such as Art, Architecture, Drama and PRE develops well-rounded and adaptable pupils.

The Classical subjects work very well beside all of the other subjects in the school and are regularly the subjects that bring linguists, scientists, artists and historians together. We believe there is something for everyone here in the Classics Department! 

Key Stage 3

Year 7 Latin

All pupils learn Latin in Year 7 for one period a week on a half-termly rotation with PSHE. They complete Stages 1-3 of the popular Cambridge Latin Course, which is a colourful mixture of Latin and the culture of the Romans, with the help of worksheets created by the Department. Topics studied include: The city of Pompeii, Roman Houses, the Roman gods and Roman food. We also focus on the importance of Latin’s ability to influence learning Modern Foreign Languages.  

Year 8 Latin  

We complete Book 1 of the Cambridge Latin Course and begin Book 2 as the Second Language option, with two hours of lessons each week. Latin continues to combine learning of the Latin language with studying the Roman World. Topics studied include: Gladiators, slavery, the Roman theatre, The Underworld, the Eruption of Mount Vesuvius and the destruction of Pompeii. Students’ understanding of an educated Pompeiian family’s way of life is further developed, including a mini-course on Ancient Greek, to explore the educational experience of wealthy Romans.

Key Stage 4

GCSE (Year 9, 10 &11)

Latin: Students continue to develop their linguistic skills with the help of the Cambridge Latin Course up to Book 4; they experience different cultural backgrounds, as the characters bounce across the Mediterranean between Britain, Egypt and Rome. Halfway through Year 10, they begin their study of literature in the original Latin - an almost unique opportunity for pupils at that age. We use the Eduqas examination board, which publishes much of its material freely online.

Classical Civilisation

There are two elements for the GCSE course - one focused on Ancient beliefs and the other on life in Roman Italy, both of which build on KS3 knowledge of life in the Ancient World:

Myth and Religion

We study in depth the gods of Ancient Greece and Rome and how they impacted the way people lived and behaved. Temples, sacrifice, art, myths and legends are all studied to help gain an understanding of human behaviour and the power of religion.

Roman City Life 

We examine key aspects of Roman civilisation, from where they lived to how they lived, including housing, the gladiators, chariot racing and slavery. The cities of Rome and Ostia provide many examples for our examination, as well as the buried cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. 

Key Stage 5

Sixth Form

Latin

The OCR A Level course provides the opportunity for consolidation and extension of prior language learning, which is tested by unseen translation of an adapted passage and of a shorter piece of original Latin by a specified author. We also study one prose set text and one verse set text, which are tested by comprehension and essay questions. The set texts are selected to give students a broader sense of what life was like in Ancient Rome: Cicero’s legal speeches give a fascinating view into the socio-political context of the late Republic and Virgil’s ‘Aeneid’ combines Roman mythology and foundation stories with the historical context of life at the beginning of the Roman Empire, following the fall of the Republic. Both texts continue to extend students’ knowledge of life in Ancient Rome, the cultural debt the Romans owed to the Greeks and the multicultural nature of the Classical World. The course develops students’ analytical skills both in the context of close-reading of texts, wider consideration of themes and characterisation and keen dissection of language and its mechanics. They also hone their ability to put forward a convincing argument, through discussion of the set texts. 

Ancient History

The OCR A Level allows our pupils to explore the Ancient Greek and Roman Worlds in great depth. For those who studied Latin or Classical Civilisation at GCSE, prior knowledge of ancient authors is developed and extended; those who are new to the subject are supported in discovering these areas for the first time, through materials supplied during the lesson and recommendations for super-curricular study.

In Year 12, study focuses on the unfolding narrative of the relations between the Greek city-states, particularly Athens and Sparta, and between Greek city-states and the Persian Empire during the period 492–404 BC. At the same time, we look at the establishment and development of the Roman principate under Emperors Augustus, Tiberius, Gaius, Claudius and Nero. There is a particular focus on the military, social, religious and political issues of the Roman Empire.

In Year 13, we complete two depth studies: one addressing the ‘The Politics and Society of Sparta between 478 and 404 BC’ and the other focusing on ‘Ruling Roman Britain between AD 43 – 128’. This A level provides the opportunity to study the ancient world through the sources it has left behind, from history and poetry to artefacts as wide-ranging as inscriptions on triumphal arches, tombstones, sculpture and excavation plans of military forts. The course develops high levels of analysis and requires students to rigorously evaluate historical sources and the work of modern historians alike; students complete the course having gained valuable skills in analysis, synthesis and argument.

Exams & Assessment

GCSE Latin Eduqas/WJEC

GCSE Classical Civilisation OCR course

A-Level Latin OCR

A-Level Ancient History OCR

Enrichment & Extra-curricular

Extra-curricular activities

The Department offers a Classics Club on Friday lunchtimes for all those interested in the Ancient World. This includes some lectures delivered by our A Level students to the younger years to encourage independent research, as well as presentation opportunities, object handling and discussion of wider reading. Topics extend beyond Rome and Greece and include ancient societies which interacted with Classical cultures, linguistics, numismatics and archaeology.

We also regularly make visits abroad to enable our students to see and appreciate the evidence of the actual statues, buildings and locations that we have studied in the classroom. In the past, we have taken trips to Italy, Greece, France and Germany. We look forward to returning to residential trips once the travel limitations of COVID-19 allow, including a sixth-form trip to Hadrian’s Wall, as well as the more usual European adventures.

Resources & Reading Lists

Resources

The Department has developed an outstanding resource collection. We have acquired many Classical books over the years and an extensive digital image and DVD library to help present the Ancient World in a modern way. We also make use of a collection of original and replica objects, ranging from full-size replica helmets and weapons to real pieces unearthed from the volcanic ash of Pompeii itself!

Reading Lists

Reading lists for students

If you enjoy a Classics book (even if it’s not on our list), please click on the link below to fill in our short Book Recommendation Form, so we can consider recommending it to others: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdF7C7ExF2bus26IqbPY2ntCZrJZ5tynItCerTSTpk97FpmEg/viewform?usp=sf_link 

Recommended Podcasts

The Ancients

In Our Time (Sixth-form level)

Useful websites

 ACE Classics

Classics News