Latin & Classical Studies


Latin, Greek and Classical Civilisation all fall within the general umbrella of Classics; the study of which gives you the same cultural background as every great playwright, artist, composer, novelist, lawyer, sculptor, poet or military historian in Western Europe in the last 2000 years.  Studying Classics enables you to have an insight into other subjects that would be lost to many other students, it can also be an indication of a potential high-flier, intellectually speaking, to future employers and universities.  Classics is also a fascinating insight into words and ideas in its own right.


Classical Civilisation at this level introduces the worlds of the Greeks and Romans: their armies, culture, medicine, myths, and ideals. Students learn to assess and evaluate historical sources and engage in creative lessons, from Greek cooking to Roman jewellery-making, and by reading the myths of Greece and the legends of Rome, they begin to get a sense of the cultural assumptions of their own civilization.

Latin is introduced in Year 8 and we focus on laying solid grammatical foundations using an attractive mixture of ancient and modern methods and source material.  Links and comparisons are always made with modern foreign languages, like French and Russian. A love of language is encouraged and passages to translate introduce key moments from history and mythology, with characters like Hannibal, Cleopatra, and Julius Caesar.


Around ten students a year opt for Latin GCSE. We follow a syllabus that includes no coursework and appeals to students who are looking for an intellectual challenge. This year our set authors, read in Latin but written about in English, are Virgil and Cicero. Language papers lead students to read history and mythology in their original language. Emphasis is put on producing a rigorously accurate translation and skills of analysis are honed. The results are excellent.

Students who prefer to read the literature and history of Greece and Rome in English can opt for Classical Civilisation GCSE.  We currently use AQA’s specification, which allows for a creative response; for example, questions include evaluating the experience of dancing in a chorus in the Greek theatre or writing a diary for the Emperor Nero’s tutor.  From 2017 we will pursue the more academically rigorous OCR specification, where longer and more analytical essays offer better preparation for A-level and develop significant transferrable skills.


Classical Civilisation can offer you a stimulating course of study for the Sixth form and can enhance a university application for History or English Literature. The AQA syllabus allows a wide range of sources to be studied, from the Persian wars and Greek tragedies to the rule of Augustus and the Odyssey.  This course should appeal to anybody who enjoys reading and discussion in class, and goes well both with other humanities, whilst also keeping options open for scientists.

Latin at A-level makes you stand out as an exceptional student of the future. Russell Group university considers it a facilitating subject that enables you to start university with the assurance that your previous study has prepared you well for the rigors of independent work at a more demanding level.  The new A-level, from 2017, means translation becomes more a matter of finding the right idiom or turn of phrase, and texts are read and discussed and commentaries created, allowing students to build some significant intellectual muscle.


Latin is itself a taxing language, and lessons are flexible to pursue intriguing philological by-ways.  Comparisons are made with the morphology and vocabulary of other ancient languages like Hebrew and Classical Arabic, and private interests in anything, from knowledge of Sumerian Cuneiform to Egyptian Hieroglyphs, is valued and shared.

We also offer Ancient Greek to our more able students, starting in Year 8 for those interested, and GCSE can be taken early as an extra subject.  Often, having mastered the basic grammar and syntax through Latin, Greek feels refreshingly straightforward, and more able pupils can enjoy the stimulation of each other’s company in a class where accelerated learning is possible.

Latin and Greek are also the basis of all medical terminology, and classes are also offered to those considering medicine as a career, to enhance their applications.

An annual trip is made to Hadrian’s Wall and the Roman army museum, as well as trips further afield.


In Year 8, pupils use an e-textbook, created specifically for Teesside High School Latin students, full of useful links and interactive games.  As they progress, iPads are used in myriad ways until they are a routine tool; whether for filming Jason and the Argonauts as a Lego stop-motion animation, using voice changing apps to make the itinerary of an epic poem into a satnav route, or simply using online vocabulary testers.  Digital learning is not an end in itself, but rather a supremely engaging means to an end, enhancing creativity in every way and allowing pupils to feel responsible for their own learning and progress.  As Socrates puts it, “I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think”.


Classical Civilisation, Latin and Greek are widely offered at good universities, where Classics can often be taken in conjunction with Archaeology, Drama, English, Modern Languages or Ancient History.  As well as being excellent training for future careers in these areas, it also offers a unique insight into the foundations of Western Civilisation, where for thousands of years our art, literature, law, medicine and fundamental thinking have been informed by the literature and culture of Ancient Greece and Rome.


Mrs. Jane Huish – Head of Classics & Head of Sixth Form