The Perse School

Ancient History

We introduce students to a world of gods and heroes, emperors and gladiators, and poets and philosophers

Our aim

We introduce students to the ancient world through a curriculum that includes Latin in Years 7 and 8; and Latin, Greek and ancient history from Year 9 upwards.

Students who would prefer to study ancient historical sources, both textual (in English translation) and visual, rather than focus on the Greek and Latin languages and the literature written in them, can choose ancient history to find out more about the ancient Mediterranean world.

The modern world is fascinated by its ancient predecessor, as can be seen the ‘Gladiator effect’ that Hollywood has experienced in recent years. Studying ancient history enables students to find out more about the reality of ancient civilisations. As well as studying ancient cultures for their own sake, we help students make links between today’s world and the societies of the past.

Students encounter some of the key figures from world history, consider the events in which they participated, and investigate how exactly it is that we know (or think we know) what happened in the ancient world. Interpreting source material enables students to develop analytical skills, the ability to discern reliability and authorial intent, and serious essay-writing expertise.

The tradition of classical learning at The Perse is a long and distinguished one which stretches from the innovative teaching of Dr W.H.D. Rouse in the early twentieth century right up to the present, when students leave The Perse to pursue classical courses at top universities including Oxford and Cambridge.

Learning journey - Years 7 to 9

We give students a good flavour of ancient history during their Latin lessons in Years 7 and 8, focusing on Pompeii in Year 7 and Roman Britain and Egypt in Year 8. Pupils can choose to study an introductory ancient history course during Year 9 before embarking upon the GCSE course in Year 10.

In Year 9 pupils gain a broad introduction to the classical world and training to develop their skills as ancient historians. They first immerse themselves in the world of Greek religion (encountering many different types of ancient evidence along the way) and then investigate the famed Persian wars, principally through the text of Herodotus. They spend the final portion of the year investigating Rome before the emperors, focusing on the figures of Hannibal and Julius Caesar.

Learning journey - GCSE

The course as outlined below will be taught for the last time from September 2016 (that year’s Year 10). In subsequent years there will be a new ancient history GCSE of which details are currently unconfirmed (though it will still be OCR and will definitely not feature controlled assessment). 

The GCSE course starts in the September of Year 10, and those who have taken the Year 9 course (or have other experience of classical study) will be best placed to make a success of the subject, although in some circumstances pupils can begin their study of ancient history at this stage. Students do not need any knowledge of Latin or Greek, as all textual sources studied are read in English translation.

Students begin the GCSE course by reconsidering the potential and problems of ancient historical source material; they then use a combination of textual and archaeological sources to investigate the life of Alexander the Great and the early history of Rome. Students also prepare for their controlled assessment task (an extended essay worth 25% of their overall GCSE) which they complete in the summer term of Year 10; the topic for this task is set annually by the exam board (OCR) and requires investigation of one of ancient Persia, Egypt, or the Hellenistic World.

In Year 11, students will study their final examined topic, which focuses on the enigmatic figure of Cleopatra, alongside thorough revision of the Alexander the Great and Origins of Rome topics.

Providing stretch

We set half-termly suggestions for pupils who would like to go beyond the curriculum, from looking into how the ancient sources have been adapted by reading a historical novel, to considering what in our era would count as a source for future historians.

We run trips to local museums and to archaeological sites in the Mediterranean.  In recent years we have visited Sicily, the Bay of Naples, Greece and Rome, exploring the ancient world through sites and museums, discovering modern culture and learning about the geography of each area.

Beyond the classroom

We regularly hold fascinating talks on classical themes, and run clubs, societies and competitions.

Some talks are organised by our 42 society, such a lecture on ‘How the Roman gods can predict your future’ by Dr Jerry Toner, Director of Studies in classics at Churchill College, Cambridge and an Old Persean, while some are given by students, perhaps as part of their EPQ, such as a presentation assessing evidence that the ancient Greeks had post-traumatic stress disorder.

Lyceum is the classical society for Years 9 to 11. Named for Aristotle’s famous philosophical meeting place, the society meets weekly to present, discuss and debate the relationship between the classical and modern worlds, exploring the work of authors, artists, politicians and film makers.

Each year students enter the national Jowett-Sendelar Classical Essay Competition organised by the Joint Association of Classical Teachers. In 2014 one student was placed fourth nationally for the best essay in the warfare category, while two other students came in the top 20 and were commended for their work.

We also run classical writing and cartoon competitions.





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