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In the tradition of a high quality and broad curriculum, The Oratory maintains a strong focus on, and enthusiasm for, the Classical languages and cultures.

All entrants to St. Philip House are given the opportunity to study Latin with the aim of reaching a standard comparable with Common Entrance Level 2 after two years of teaching.  On entering the senior school in the Third Form fifteen to twenty boys usually continue with Latin. Of these boys. five to ten each year continue to GCSE, many of whom eventually achieve grade A* or A in the subject.

Classical Greek is also an option on entering the Third Form and is part of the department’s commitment to our most able students; the subject is a timetabled GCSE option and is offered to those who already have a background in, and have shown an aptitude for Latin, and wish to take on the challenges and nuances of a further Classical language. A small group of boys each year takes Greek at GCSE or A Level.

The nature of both Latin and Greek ensures that Sixth Form numbers are small, allowing for a tutorial atmosphere in class. Indeed, many pupils have achieved a grade A at A Level and those who have continued successfully to A Level usually gain places at top universities to read a variety of subjects.  An A Level in Latin or Greek really makes students stand out, and develops skills in logic and analysis, as well as an understanding of language and an introduction to the great literary works of the ancient world.

A good set of A Level results in 2017 included one student achieving A in both Latin and Classical Greek, who progressed to read Classics at Cambridge.

From September 2018, the school will offer A Level Classical Civilisation, which will allow those boys with an interest in the culture and history of the Classical world, but less aptitude for or interest in language, to study it without requiring Latin or Greek.

The provision of Latin and Greek at the School looks towards the overall intellectual development of boys, particularly in their use of logical thinking, general cultural development, linguistic competence, appreciation of literature, and mental discipline. Although the emphasis is on acquisition of the language, every effort is made to integrate pupils’ studies within the School’s curriculum as a whole and to show that a knowledge of the past can often shed useful light on aspects of the present world.

Clare Coombe

Head of Classics