We are proud to be one of the few schools that teaches classical Greek from beginners’ level right up to preparation for Oxbridge university admission.
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.
Our students often choose to study Greek to challenge themselves. Once they have mastered a new alphabet, students find as their reward that they have gained access to a rich and varied world. They gain not only satisfaction but also real insight from being able to read the foundational texts of Western literature in their original language. They will be able to investigate the ancient Greek world in all its diversity and to see just how indebted to that world we still are today.
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 8 and 9
The top sets in Year 8 receive an introduction to ancient Greek as a regular part of their Latin lessons, while students in other sets receive a taster lesson during the year.
Year 9 students who opt for Greek embark upon a beginners’ course in the subject, introducing them to the language and the civilisation of the Greeks. Some may already have had some exposure to Greek during Year 8 at The Perse or at their previous school; we meet all needs through a programme of differentiated study which ensures that all students have reached the same level by the end of the year.
- Learning journey - GCSE
Those students who have completed the Year 9 course can choose to study Greek for GCSE in Years 10 and 11.
During Year 10 students learn the remaining language features required for GCSE. Towards the end of the year, students begin study of their GCSE prose set text, often taken from the writings of the historian, Herodotus.
In Year 11 students complete their study of the prose text and study the verse set text as prescribed by the exam board; the verse text may well be an extract from one of Homer’s epic poems or could be an excerpt from a play of Euripides. Alongside study and revision of the set literature, students consolidate their knowledge of grammar and vocabulary and will gain regular practice in the translation and analysis of ‘unseen’ Greek passages ahead of their GCSE exams.
- Providing stretch
We set half-termly suggestions for pupils who would like to go beyond the curriculum, from applying the literary critical techniques they have learnt in Greek to their reading in other languages, to creating a piece of creative writing based on personal research.
We run trips to local museums and to archaeological sites around the Mediterranean. Recent trips to Greece have seen pupils visit key sites in Athens as well as Delphi, Olympia, Mycenae and Epidaurus, giving them the chance to investigate the ancient world through sites and museums and to discover modern culture and learn about the geography of the area.
We prepare students to compete in two annual Reading Competitions run by the local branch of the Classical Association. Students read passages of Greek that they have studied.
- Beyond the classroom
We regularly hold fascinating talks on classical themes, and run clubs, societies and competitions.
Some talks are 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 a 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. Students are encouraged to attend productions of Greek plays, including the triennial Cambridge Greek Play (in the original language).