The study of Latin at Kingswood provides a thorough grounding in the vocabulary and the grammatical and syntactical concepts of the language that developed into French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Romanian, as well as more than half of the words in the English language. Once students reach a degree of mastery of Latin, they are able to read the works of writers who have influenced the thoughts and works of European writers for the last 2000 years.
Students access this challenging material through the context of the history of the ancient world, considering aspects such as slavery, armed conflict, and different beliefs about life after death. The study of Latin has traditionally been seen as a rigorous and demanding discipline, and while it certainly does train the mind, the course is accessible to diligent students of all abilities.
The majority of Kingswood students study Latin for at least one year, which not only provides obvious benefits for future studies of Modern Languages, History, Religious Studies and English, but also gives them a more general academic confidence: the study of Latin teaches students that if they persevere, they can understand concepts that may have eluded them initially.
While the logical, problem-solving aspect of the subject and the demands on a learner's memory do exercise the mind, it is the human part of our studies that seems to touch students most deeply: Cicero for the political animals, Ovid for crafty amusement, Caesar for the tactics of conquest, Catullus for the broken-hearted and Virgil for every human experience and emotion.
Reading Latin allows students to access timeless wisdom. Sometimes "you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - that you'd thought special, particular to you. And here it is, set down by someone else, a person you've never met, maybe even someone long dead. And it's as if a hand has come out, and taken yours" (Alan Bennett, The History Boys).
Key Stage 3
Pupils start studying Latin in Year 8 and it is an option for further study in Year 9. The Cambridge Latin Course teaches primarily reading skills, which are very different from and much easier to acquire than writing skills.
A vast amount of European culture, both literary and artistic, is based upon a knowledge of the Classical world, and the benefits conveyed by even a small amount of Latin to the study of most European languages (not least English) are immense. But the great joy is the subject itself. The literature - serious, moving, and often hilarious - deals with the constants of humanity and is among the greatest of all time.
Pupils follow the WJEC specification at GCSE level. In Year 10, pupils continue with the Cambridge Latin Course. Book III is set in the important Roman town of Aquae Sulis (Bath) and the language work is set in the turbulent military occupation of Britain by the Romans. Pupils encounter more complex Latin sentences and complete their learning of Latin grammar.
In Year 11, pupils turn to the literature element of the GCSE, which involves reading extracts from major Latin authors, material which is often witty, sometimes romantic, occasionally sad and sometimes rather rude! Pupils also continue practising their language skills in preparation for sitting two unseen translation papers.
At A-Level, pupils follow the OCR specification and the course teaches a thorough understanding of the structure and syntax of the Latin language. Pupils read some of the world's greatest literature, explore controversial issues, develop their intellect and hone their academic skills.