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The Classics Department at Holmewood House


(What’s worth reading, is worth reading over and over).

The Classics department often has an unusual and ambivalent position within a school. Neither a modern language nor a purely historical subject, it can sit uncomfortably across the two stools. At Holmewood House, the department seeks to resolve this problem by standing proudly alone, a department to be viewed and valued in its own right, independent of both areas but drawing upon and utilizing the best practices of both.

Described by its critics as pointless and archaic and by its supporters as a valuable and, indeed, essential part of the curriculum, Classics at Holmewood is well thought of by both the pupil and parent communities. Acknowledging that the demanding aspects of the languages may lack the glamorous and immediate appeal of a modern language, the department works hard to make Latin and Greek as much fun as possible, whilst retaining the highest linguistic and syntactical standards. Over the course of many years, the department has built up a formidable and enviable record of success at Scholarship and Common Entrance to the finest independent schools in the country.

The department aims to provide a range of courses which are educationally appropriate, challenging and rewarding and provide very sturdy foundations for further study. Both languages are firmly placed in their historical context and the department makes a point of drawing upon original texts to provide examples and further understanding of linguistic usage. All linguistic and historical work is supported by a well-stocked departmental library and DVD collection. The department makes extensive use of e-textbooks, on-line resources, interactive games and apps to offer a range of stimulating teaching methods. Timetable allocation for both languages is generous, a further indication of Holmewood’s commitment to Classics.

Latin and Greek are taught by highly qualified subject specialists in two designated Classics rooms.  A tailor-made Latin course, developed by the department, is followed by all the girls and boys in Year 5 and this is taken forward in Year 6 when the Common Entrance syllabus is begun; a separate programme is followed by the scholarship cohort, which also has the option to take Greek.  Latin may be taken as a Common Entrance option throughout Years 7 and 8 and a good number of boys and girls choose to do so year on year. Latin is a compulsory subject for scholarship candidates and several opt to add Greek too.

"Pupils have a strong sense of right and wrong [...] borne out by the exemplary behaviour of pupils in lessons and around the school."
ISI Inspection Report 2017

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