For some the word 'Classics' denotes a niche subject, linked to notions of elitism, and for many years qualifications such as GCSE and A or A/S Levels in Latin and Ancient Greek languages, Ancient History, and Classical Civilization, have been hardly available outside the private education sector. This means that many pupils - and their educational institutions – have missed out on the enjoyment, fascination, and educational benefits that a study of the Ancient World provides.
Things are, however, starting to change, and hundreds of forward-thinking Educational Institutions have recognised the benefits of introducing the study of the Classical subjects into their curriculum. A great local example in the West Midlands is the Sidney Stringer Academy in central Coventry, which has introduced the teaching of Greek and Latin GCSE, and Latin A-level, with the help of the charity Classics for All, and through close association with Warwick School, and now the WCN.
It is a central belief of us here at the WCN, and of our partners the charity Classics for All and Advocating Classics Education, that Classics is for everyone; that all pupils ought to be allowed the opportunity to study the history and languages of the Ancient World - a world which has had an important impact on our own cultural development, and which was itself a world of incedible cultural diversity. In studying the Ancient World, we learn about the roots of many of the building blocks of our own cutlure, but also of the importance of multi-culturalism, of the vast difference between our world and theirs, and we get to view our own world in a completely new light. The Ancient Mediterrannean World had a formative effect on all of us, and so we all deserve the opportunity to learn about this fascinating place and time.
Testimonies of pupils and staff speak of the importance and enjoyment of studying the Ancient World:
“The grant from Classics for All has enabled us to start a classics club in school … and the enthusiasm and interest shown by the students who have joined is very evident. The class is currently oversubscribed with a waiting list, demonstrating the interest and modern relevance it has for students at the school. The study of classics has previously been accessible only to the privileged few and the grant therefore has brought the joys of learning about the ancient world to a new, and very keen, young audience.” Deborah Hughes, Deputy Vice Principal at Greig City Academy, London.
“Classics is an important aspect of my school life. It’s something I have always wanted to study but did not think I would have the chance. Since starting weekly sessions before school my interest in Classics has peaked. I am really glad that it has become available at school and I hope to further my education on Classics by studying it at A-level.” Ibrahim Islam, pupil at Allerton Grange School, Leeds.
A recent interview, in which Sidney Stringer pupils discuss with the renowned Classicist Prof. Paul Cartledge the benefits and joys of learning Classics:
“Understanding even the fundamentals of the subject will open doors to understanding more about culture, media, language, science and even modern history and attitudes in society. Offering it at Allerton Grange will not only spark interest in this rare subject but in addition make more genuinely knowledgeable students.” Arghya Chakrabarty, pupil at Allerton Grange School, Leeds.
“Latin is a wonderful experience for [our pupils] and it sits underneath a lot of other subjects such as science. It gives them the opportunity to explore where language comes from, to see patterns but also to see connections and that’s a higher level skill that’s so important for young people today in the kind of joined up learning we expect of them.” Dr Johan McKinnon, Academy Headteacher, Levenshulme High School, Manchester.