A thriving department offering three classical disciplines

The traditions of Ancient Greece and Rome have played an important role in the development of Western beliefs, literature and civilisation, while remaining remarkably different from our own society in a number of ways.

At Channing, we have a thriving Classics department, offering three classical disciplines at GCSE and A Level: Latin, Ancient Greek and Classical Civilisation. Girls studying classical subjects achieve excellent results and we are delighted that many of them continue their classical studies at university.

Key Stage 3 curriculum

All girls in Years 7, 8 and 9 study Latin. We use the Cambridge Latin Course, which introduces aspects of Latin language through stories set in various locations in the Roman world. We move from Pompeii on the eve of the eruption of Vesuvius to the back waters of Roman Britain, then to the exotic port city of Alexandria in Roman Egypt and finally we reach Rome itself, the magnificent capital of the Mediterranean. Latin at this stage gives girls an understanding of the structure of language and provides a sound basis for the study of Romance languages such as French, Spanish and Italian. It encourages them to make comparisons with their own language and they learn that many English words are derived from Latin.

Beyond the Classroom

The Classics Department at Channing certainly makes the most of its London location, and we give our students every opportunity to extend their studies by visiting the British Museum, the Museum of London, and the National Gallery, as well as attending productions of Greek drama, lectures and study days. We also enjoy taking the girls on tour further afield and ran trips to Rome in 2016 and to Greece in 2015.

The Sixth Form Classics Society meets weekly to hear talks delivered by visiting speakers, Channing staff and the students themselves. Topics have ranged from Ovid’s approach to love poetry to scent in the ancient world, and we also find time to play Latin scrabble and debate the future of the Elgin marbles.

We enter the London Greek and Latin Reciting Competition in March and have enjoyed success in a variety of categories. We were particularly pleased to be able to enter six Year 12 Latinists into the ‘Greek Chorus’ category this year and were impressed by the way in which they got to grips with the alphabet, pronunciation and rhythm!

Mythologers is enjoyed by the Middle School and weekly sessions allow students to learn about important mythological figures such as Penelope, Clytemnestra and Cassandra as well as producing their own creative work on the exploits of Theseus and Hercules. Caroline Lawrence, author of ‘The Roman Mysteries’, has visited several times to inspire Year 7 to write their own historical fiction, and our summer competition sees a range of superb short stories, films and cartoons.

GCSE Latin: Exam board OCR

This course builds on the many aspects of Latin language already covered in the first three years. We continue to use the Cambridge Latin Course and gradually progress to reading Latin authors themselves, including Horace, Ovid and Cicero. There is no coursework for GCSE Latin. Latin at GCSE is an enjoyable and challenging subject, which combines both linguistic and historical elements throughout the two-year course.

GCSE Greek: Exam board OCR

This course is studied as an after-school class and uses John Taylor’s popular ‘Greek to GCSE’ course in which we read stories adapted from Aesop’s fables, Plato’s dialogues and Arrian’s life of Alexander the Great. We cover the linguistic material quickly over eighteen months before reading original Homeric Greek as our verse set text. There is no coursework for GCSE Greek. It is an ambitious and highly rewarding course, which introduces students to the fascinating and important world of Greece.

GCSE Classical Civilisation: Exam board OCR

Two components make up this exciting and rich course: ‘Myth and Religion’ and ‘The Homeric World’. In the first component, students explore Greek and Roman beliefs about the divine world, the nature of religious sites such as the Athenian Acropolis and the intriguing Lupercalia, Eleusinian Mysteries and City Dionysia that were highlights of Greek and Roman worship. In their study of the Homeric World, students read sections of Homer’s Odyssey, focusing on the hero’s travels to return to his homeland of Ithaca and his revenge on the suitors who have been courting his wife in his absence. They also look at the Mycenaean civilisation to understand better the cultural context to the epic poem. This course combines work with visual and material primary sources and the reading of literature in translation. Students with an interest in the ancient world and its literature, history and/or mythology will enjoy this course.