Mr H Biggs MA (Oxon)
Head of Classics

Classics opens doors. A study of Roman and Greek language and culture is a gateway into an ancient world both strikingly familiar and shockingly alien to our 21st-century minds. But it is also much more than that, since any study of the classical past prompts us to think afresh about our own society and values. Much of what the Romans and Greeks created – their art, drama, political systems, buildings, and much more – remains central to our lives today, and the languages of Latin and Classical Greek are mother-tongues for modern European languages. To study a classical subject is also to study ourselves.

The Classics Department provides three ways in to this ancient past. Latin is offered throughout the school for Years 7-13, Classical Greek is an option from Year 9 and is taught off-timetable in Year 10, and Classical Civilisation is available at both GCSE and A-level. All three subjects provide a rigorous and broad academic syllabus.

All pupils study Latin in Years 7 and 8. The focus of the course is primarily linguistic, as we explore the key grammar concepts and meet vocabulary which shows links to English, Spanish, French and many other modern languages; we also aim to put this language study in context by studying cultural topics such as Roman mythology and the revolt of Boudicca. Roughly half of the year group opt to continue with Latin into Year 9, where foundations are laid for the GCSE course. In Years 10 & 11 we follow the Eduqas course, which blends language, literature and cultural study. In our language lessons we use Latin to GCSE, a textbook co-authored by a former Head of Department. In a typical year between 20-30 students sit the GCSE.

In Year 9 Classical Greek is offered as an additional subject alongside Latin to extend keen linguists and introduce them to the society and culture of ancient Greece. Depending on interest it is then possible for students to study Classical Greek off-timetable in Year 10 and sit the Intermediate Certificate in Classical Greek at the end of the year.

In Years 10 & 11 Classical Civilisation is offered as a GCSE option (OCR). Students will spend the first year exploring Myth and Religion, a unit which covers a huge amount of mythology, religion, literature and art, to evaluate fully the various myths and rituals surrounding Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. In the second year, students will examine War and Warfare, a unit which looks in detail at the military systems and tactics of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome as well as the interplay between war, politics and society. This course is taught entirely in English with no requirement for either Latin or Classical Greek, making it an accessible and popular choice!

In the Sixth Form both Latin and Classical Civilisation are offered as A-level options (OCR). Latin A-level combines more advanced language study with detailed examination of prime selections of classical literature (e.g. the epic poetry of Virgil or the histories of Tacitus and Livy).

Classical Civilisation A-level provides a broad study of the ancient world through its literature (studied in English translation) and material and visual culture. Topics are very diverse: they include Greek and Roman epic poems, a study of how the emperor Augustus used his image and propaganda to control the Roman empire and an exploration of the origins, advantages and disadvantages of Athenian democracy. A-level students regularly go on to study classical subjects at university, and several have received Oxbridge offers in recent years.

In addition to all of the above, the department is keen to get students out of the classroom on visits, study days and overseas trips – for example Rome and the Bay of Naples, Greece and London which is, of course, a Roman city and we take advantage of its remains and world-leading museums.

Finally, we also run a Partnerships programme where we encourage students from local comprehensive schools to learn Latin here at Colfe’s after school. These students go on to sit a WJEC Level 1 Certificate in Latin and many of them will then apply to join Colfe’s in the Sixth Form.

A-level course details:

Art & Photography

The Art & Photography department at Colfe’s is an exciting, creative space that values imagination and intuitive responses, group and individual work.

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The Classics Department provides three ways in to this ancient past. Latin is offered throughout the school for Years 7-13, Classical Greek is an option in Year 9 and off-timetable in Year 10, and Classical Civilisation is available at both GCSE and A-level.

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Computer Science

Computer Science and IT at Colfe’s allows you to learn the principles of information and computation thinking, understand how digital systems work and how to put this knowledge to use through a range of programming languages.

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Design & Technology

Design & Technology at Colfe’s prepares pupils to take part in a rapidly changing world; learning to think creatively, become problem solvers and innovators, and design products to fulfil needs and wants not yet realised.

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Our aim is to help you learn how to express yourself, to explore your unique creativity and ultimately to become a confident performer.

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In Economics and Business the emphasis in the classroom is on developing analytical abilities, encouraging argument from different standpoints and critical examination of data.

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English teaching at Colfe’s is focused on developing pupils’ engagement with literature, introducing them to a range of writers and texts, and encouraging them to become independent, proficient readers.

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Eudaimonia at Colfe’s is the teaching of the activity of wellbeing. Broadly based on the virtue ethics of the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, the word Eudaimonia itself is most commonly translated as ‘flourishing’ by practising virtuous behaviour and engaging with what it means to be human.

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Our planet is a dynamic, complex and beautiful place. As far as we know it is unique. Studying Geography can help you to understand it, but studying Geography at Colfe’s can help you thrive in it.

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The History syllabus at Colfe’s studies some of the most significant events and people in British and World History over the past 2,000 years and aims to inspire a passion for the past.

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Learning Support

Learning Support is based in the heart of the Senior School in a well-equipped classroom with computers, ipads, an interactive whiteboard and an abundance of learning resources and educational games.

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The Library is very much at the centre of the school, and is extremely busy at break and lunch times, and before and after the school day.

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Mathematics is the keystone to the modern technological world in which we live. It enables us to understand our physical environment through sophisticated modelling techniques and is the ultimate language of strategical reasoning.

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Media Studies

Media Studies is about understanding how our world is constructed and how we are encouraged to perceive it. If you understand how the media works, you understand how the world works.

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Modern Languages

Our carefully planned Modern Languages programmes of study will lead you to communicate in modern, real-life situations, using real contemporary language.

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The importance of studying music can’t be overstated; it enables pupils to build confidence through performance, nurture creativity through composition and develop critical enquiry through musical appraisal.

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Physical Education

Through the Physical Education and Sport programme, our pupils experience opportunities to develop skills, which enable them to make informed lifestyle choices in adulthood and a lifelong love of sport and physical activity.

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Religion & Philosophy

Giving pupils an opportunity to engage with the rich history of philosophical and theological thought contributes to their personal growth and ethical development.

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The Science facilities at Colfe's include nine dedicated laboratories with access to notebook computers, so that ICT skills can be used to complement learning.

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How to apply

Find out more about how to apply for Colfe's School. Our main entry points are at ages 3, 4, 11 and 16.