“Animi cultus ille erat ei quasi quidam humanitatis cibus. (Cultivation of the mind is as necessary as food to the body.)” – Cicero

Head of Department: Howard Long

Words are all around us. In this ‘Age of Information’, they appear not only in books and newspapers, but on our tablets, e-readers, and mobile phones. Some 60% of English words are derived from Latin, and another 10% from ancient Greek, which means that even if we access the written word via the most up-to-date device, a perpetual bond exists between us and the ancient world. It is not only our language that has its foundations in antiquity, but also our concept of law, politics, history, art, science, philosophy and mathematics – our entire culture is founded upon that of the Greeks and Romans.


Pupils begin learning Latin in the Threes (Year 6), in which they study the core grammar, and aim to master a vocabulary of just over 200 words. As well as translating Latin into English, the department places great emphasis on teaching children how to translate English into Latin. A child who is able to compose accurate Latin will be able to approach Latin into English translations with tremendous confidence.

The study of Latin is continued in the Twos (Year 7) and the Ones (Year 8), with the view almost every child will sit the subject at Common Entrance (Level 1, 2, or 3), or at Scholarship level. The different levels of examination cater for children of all abilities. As well as covering more grammar and vocabulary in the Twos and Ones, those children preparing to sit Common Entrance study the following Greek myths: Jason and the Golden Fleece, Perseus and Medusa, The Trojan War, Theseus and the Minotaur, The Labours of Hercules, and The Wanderings of Odysseus.


Ancient Greek is offered at Windlesham as part of the extra-curricular programme. The language’s unique alphabet fascinates the children, and its vocabulary provides a captivating insight into the origin of many English words – children are amazed to learn that a hippopotamus is literally a ‘river-horse’! Pupils aim to sit the subject at Common Entrance (Level 1 or 2), or Scholarship level, and achieve great success.

The department aims to be at the forefront of classical language teaching methods. A range of computer software and iPad apps create a fun and exciting environment in which to learn about the classical world. A recent initiative has seen the recording of all the key Latin grammar points, vocabulary, and prose passages, so that children can listen to, as well as read, the material. Outside the classroom, external Classics specialists visit the school as part of the Knowledge Night programme.

The study of Classics at Windlesham encourages children to be intellectually rigorous, to think logically, and to be curious about the languages and cultures of the Western world.

Scholarship exams have been sat in both Latin and Greek at a considerable number of senior schools in recent years, including:

Sevenoaks School
Marlborough College
Wellington College
Brighton College
Eton College
St. Edward’s, Oxford
St. Mary’s Calne
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