Latin may rightly be called a dead language  – there is nobody left alive to talk to, after all  – but it is very far from extinct. Latin shines a light on the way all languages work. Because it is read (not spoken), taught through vocabulary and grammar, students acquire an excellent understanding of the mechanics and structure of languages. This supports their understanding not only of Spanish and French but also English. Latin students tend to be not only more accurate in their English sentence constructions but have a wider, more complex vocabulary.   

At Ditcham Park School, all students in Years 7 and 8 study Latin language and Roman Civilisation. All language is taught through story, initially stories of a family living in Rome, but as students become more competent at decoding Latin, we move on to stories from mythology and Roman History. Latin has, as one of our students frequently says, all the best stories! At GCSE, students have the opportunity to read Roman authors and hear their authentic voices. We might read Pliny’s first-hand account of the eruption of Vesuvius, or Ovid’s chatting up of a pretty girl at the chariot races. 

Sabina and her family live in the Subura in Rome during the reign of the infamous Emperor Nero.  Our students discover what life was like for Sabina in her home in a Roman insula (block of flats) in the Subura and also travel with her and other characters to Roman Britain and Gaul. Students investigate many aspects of Roman life including slavery, religion, women’s lives, leisure pursuits and art. Students enter into a lost world but one that, with imagination, comes vividly back to life. 

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