How demanding Latin would penalise state school pupils

May 26, 1995

Like Peter Jones in his article on classics (THES, May 19), I fear its demise through the restrictions of the national curriculum. I attended state school, studied Latin and Greek at school, went on to read Latin and linguistics at university and am currently studying for a postgraduate degree. This path, though well-trodden, is now very difficult. The national curriculum has reduced choice at 14 plus, made all children study technology and science and effectively made it impossible for a state school to run classical civilisation, Latin and Greek at GCSE as well as fulfilling national curriculum statutory requirements.

The solution to the decline of classics is not clear (hic opus est, hic labor est). Peter Jones's remedy of introducing a course requirement of GCSE Latin would penalise the vast majority of state school applicants.

The efforts of universities in teaching classical languages to beginners, though laudable, do not produce classicists of a standard able to teach to A level after three years' study. The essential component of A level Latin and Greek is literature in the original language.

I had hoped to teach classics at secondary school but am committed to teaching in state education where this would be very difficult.

But una salus victis nullam sperare slautem (knowing there is no hope can give one the courage to fight and win). Fight on, Joint Association of Classical Teachers.

CAROL Toms, Universite de Poitiers.

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