Classics is the study of the languages, culture, history and thought of the civilisations of Ancient Greece and Rome. As such, it is one of the most interdisciplinary of subjects, making it constantly fresh and challenging, and encouraging mental versatility. Girls develop their essay writing skills and analytical skills, looking at works of art, historical documents and texts written in their original languages. Reading of the world’s greatest literature is also an essential part of the course.
At A Level and at GCSE, enthusiastic and experienced teachers, with excellent subject knowledge, teach the girls. The Classics Department is based in three classrooms and girls have the opportunity to visit museums, lectures and take part in trips to both Greece and Rome, over the course of their studies.
Girls who take the subject at A Level have progressed to Oxbridge (Classics) and to Russell Group Universities, particularly Warwick. Undergraduate courses can be pure Classics or a combination of Classics with modern languages or English.
The Classics Department prides itself on the number of opportunities it offers beyond the classroom. In the Lower School, trips are arranged to St Albans, Butser Celtic Farm and Fishbourne Palace. From Year 10 there are biennial trips to Rome and Pompeii, or Athens and Delphi. There are also regular competitions displayed on the Classics Board and a variety of clubs, ranging from Latin Scholars to Ancient Crafts, with Greek language classes pre-GCSE.
The Head of Department is Debora Downing, affectionately known as DD. She has a degree in English and Latin from the University of Warwick, and an M.A in Latin from the same university. DD then went on to do a postgraduate course at drama school before setting up a touring theatre company called ‘Northern Lights Theatre Company’, with which DD and her husband toured the UK and Ireland, employing other actors as needed, until their son started school. DD then started running workshops for English and Drama Departments in schools before moving into teaching full time.