Latin is taught in Years 5 to 8 to most pupils with the Common Entrance paper being taken in a pupil’s final term for entrance to a senior school. In Years 5 and 6 both forms in each year group learn the language, using the course book ‘Ab Initio’. This forms the basis of the syllabus throughout the four years. Two lessons per week are taught at this stage. The aim is for the upper set in Year 6 to have finished the Level 1 syllabus by the end of that year.
In Years 7 and 8, there are three Latin lessons per week. In Year 7, the aim is for the upper set to have finished the Level 2 syllabus by the end of the year. The upper set in Year 8 will cover the Level 3 syllabus and move on to the Common Academic Scholarship syllabus, for those attempting a scholarship during their final year. The Common Entrance paper includes a Classical Civilisation element which is worth 13% of the total marks.
Latin is an optional subject at Common Entrance and indeed in most scholarship examinations. However, most pupils will study it. All senior independent schools support its inclusion in the prep school curriculum. There is a real difference in difficulty between Levels 2 and 3 at Common Entrance. If we feel a pupil is not capable of performing well at Level 3, then we will consolidate Level 2. Senior schools are generally happy with this. Latin scholarship papers are generally very demanding but, as a result, scholarship candidates are given considerable credit for attempting them!
After studying Latin for two years, all pupils receive a vocabulary and grammar folder containing everything they will need to know for Common Entrance, including notes on the Classical Civilisation topics.
Pupils often ask ‘Why do we learn Latin?’ The answer is: it supports other language work, it is rigorous, it is finite and it is also a superb ‘training ground’ for the intellect.