Pupils are not expected to have studied Latin before Year 7. Latin is compulsory at this stage because not all families have experience of an ancient language and because Latin also involves the study of Roman culture – the origins of Western civilisation. Pupils often find that Latin helps them with English and Spanish. No more “amo,amas,amat..” or Caesar’s “Gallic Wars”. We use the Cambridge Latin Course which is a pupil friendly text book designed to introduce the language gently via entertaining stories.
Each chapter focuses in Latin on the lives and adventures of people who lived in Pompeii in the 1st century A.D. and ends with a study in English of a civilisation topic e.g. Roman houses, theatre, gladiators, baths, politics and volcanoes. The Cambridge course is beautifully illustrated with photographs and plans; it provides drama-scripts in Latin too.
At the end of Year 7 pupils are invited to choose between Latin, French or German as a second language. Children generally succeed if they are studying a subject which they like. Pupils new to the school should preferably have prior knowledge of the subject if starting Latin in Year 8. However, a child with a proven record of ability in languages should not ignore Latin; a keen pupil will learn fast.
Book 2 of the course focuses on Roman Britain and Roman Egypt. The stories are full of tales of love, war, murder and revenge but they also introduce irregular verbs, infinitives, relative clauses and adjectival agreement. As an inflected language Latin continues to excite the linguist. It also fascinates the historian. We look at farms in Britain, Boudica’s Rebellion, Roman Architecture in Britain, Alexandria, its buildings, science, medicine, astrology and astronomy. Latin’s charm is the variety of its content, it isn’t just a language.
The reading course in Year 9 continues with Book 2 and then eventually takes in Book 3. In this book we focus on Quintus’ adventures in Bath and Fishbourne and on two comical characters struggling in the Roman Army. As civilization topics we look at Roman Daily Life in more detail: slaves, freedmen, the lives of men and women, houses and schools.
At the end of Year 9 pupils will take the WJEC Level 1 certificate in Latin Language and Roman Civilisation. This allows pupils who give up the subject at this stage to work for a qualification which gives them something to show for three years’ Latin study. Pupils’ progress in this subject is assessed in Key Stage 3 via a written homework in the week–often a passage of Latin for translation or a linguistic puzzle. A longer test is given to pupils at certain stages of the work.