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Classics, the study of the literature, language and culture of ancient Greece and Rome, has a strong tradition at Bryanston. All pupils study Latin in the first year, with a range of sets to cater for all previous levels of experience, including complete beginners.

Those with linguistic flair have the opportunity to add classical Greek to their programme, while for some it proves more rewarding to study the culture and literature of classical civilisation in translation. 

Having enjoyed an introductory first year course, pupils may then choose to select GCSE Latin, or for some both GCSE Latin and Greek, among their GCSE options.  The even mix of language (translating from Latin into English) and study of original ancient literature at GCSE prepares pupils well for either the A level or IB courses in Latin and/or Greek. 

Pupils with no previous experience of classics may also select Classical Civilisation at A level, which studies classical literature, history and culture in translation. There is a steady flow of pupils keen to apply for classical subjects at university, and a structured programme of extra-curricular events enriches the whole experience.

Dr Ben Pullan
Head of Classics


First three years

The first three years make use of some excellent language courses for building up linguistic fluency.  John Taylor’s Latin to GCSE  and Greek to GCSE, allow our pupils to develop their language skills further, and cope with increasingly complex passages for translation.

From the first year we aim to introduce excerpts from ‘real’ Latin literature, preparing pupils to read, analyse, and make literary responses to Greek and Roman authors, a challenge comprising 50% of the OCR GCSE courses. 'Latin Stories' by Cullen, Dormandy and Taylor, together with the Greek counterpart by Taylor and Waite supply a range of interesting classical excerpts to develop translation skills, as well as widen understanding of the ancient world.

Integral to the Classics curriculum are annual year-group events such as visits from expert speakers or story-tellers (the latter making use of our outdoor Greek theatre), or the second year field outings to important classical sites such as Portchester, Fishbourne or Bath. There is an annual classical reading competition at which pupils of all ages can try their hand at performing Latin or Greek excerpts aloud. 

Sixth form

The sixth form offers a broad range of classical opportunities. Pupils may select Latin in the language group of the IB Hexagon; classical Greek may also be an option, subject to timetabling restraints. On the A level side we offer the OCR classics suite of subjects, so that pupils can take Latin, Greek and Classical Civilisation.

Growing sophistication of linguistic experience and literary analysis builds on prior work in Latin and Greek; Classical Civilisation studies classical literature and culture in translation, and can be taken by those without Latin and Greek. Current options are Homer’s Odyssey and Greek Art (sculpture and vase painting) in the first year; in the second year, Virgil’s Aeneid, and one option focusing on beliefs and ideas from the ancient world, currently on the topic of Greek Religion. A selection of linguistic textbooks supports Latin and Greek in the sixth form, such as the Scottish Classics Group’s The Latin Language, or John Taylor’s Greek beyond GCSE and Mathew Owen's books on Latin Prose and Verse unseen translation. The literary texts are read with the help of the most suitable text editions or resources available. A full programme of extra-curricular events helps to bring the classical world alive: as well as visits to relevant theatre performances, museums and sites, we support the talks on classical topics organised by the Salisbury Classical Association, and compete in their annual Reading Competition, which enables pupils to perform extracts from Greek or Latin literature. We regularly travel to Greece and Italy on educational visits with pupils.

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The Greek Theatre

We make use of our very own outdoor Greek theatre to introduce pupils to the concept of the Greek theatrical tradition (part of the curriculum Classical Civilisation in Year 9 and the AS year).

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Educational visits

The Classics Department is committed to exciting overseas educational visits, and has in recent years taken pupils to Italy (Rome or Pompeii and Naples, or Sicily), while the biennial trip to Greece (Athens, Delphi, Olympia, the Argolid) has become a popular and highly rewarding regular fixture.