St Anthony's School Hampstead

St Anthony's Girls School Hampstead

Our Ethos

St. Anthony's aims to provide high quality education in a caring, supportive and Catholic environment, infused by Christ's Gospel, in order that each of our pupils is able to develop fully as an individual, well-adjusted to the wider community.

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Latin, Greek & ARABIC

I was found unable to answer a single question in the Latin paper. I wrote my name at the top of the page. I wrote down the number of the question "I." After much reflection I put a bracket round it thus "(I)." But thereafter I could not think of anything connected with it that was either relevant or true. Incidentally there arrived from nowhere in particular a blot and several smudges. I gazed for two whole hours at this sad spectacle: and then merciful ushers collected my piece of foolscap with all the others and carried it up to the Headmaster's table.

Winston Churchill’s Latin career did not get off to a flying start. Nowadays school boys – so at home with their notepads, iPads and shin pads – are suddenly faced with such strange words as predicate, tense, transitive and imperative. Picture the scene...

Today, boys, we are going to look at English grammar. Let’s take the sentence:
‘Elizabeth loved her subjects.’ Now Cedric, where is the subject?
Sir, I thought you said ‘subjects’.
Cedric, I did say ‘subjects’. Where is the subject?
Sir, I am a little unclear.
Cedric, it is quite clear to me and I suspect to the rest of the class: Elizabeth is the subject.
But Sir, how can she be? She’s the Queen. She is not a subject. She was a subject when her sister was around, but not anymore.
Cedric, surely you can see that the subjects is not the subject?
What is it, Boris?
Sir, you said the subjects is not the subject. Surely one should say: the subjects are not the subjects?
Boris, no, the subjects are not the subjects is incorrect. The subjects is not the subject; it is, of course, the object.
What is it, Horace?
Sir, how can the subjects be the object?
Horace, the subjects are the objects of the Queen’s affections.

Yes, we at St Anthony’s put the boys through their grammatical hoops. They emerge, clear-headed and confident, armed with their pluperfect passive subjunctives and knowledge of diachronic linguistics. They are able to compose basic Latin prose and trace French words back to their Latin forebears.

Many senior schools now follow the Cambridge Latin Course which uses a vocabulary base that focuses on the house rather than the battlefield. In Year 8 the boys study a bridging course, which helps with revision of grammar and introduces the vocabulary necessary for a seamless transition to Year 9.

Whilst Latin is on the timetable and studied by all the boys, starting after half term in Year 6, Greek is offered as an after-school activity to those able and willing to meet the challenge. With only a one hour class per week, consistent attendance and regular homework is essential for success. It represents an area in the curriculum where a self-selected group of boys can progress at a pace dictated by them. Building on the grammar met in Latin, progress is focused and swift and boys who make the necessary commitment over the two years achieve impressive results.

It is fortunate that the Adventures of Odysseus feature in both the Latin and Greek syllabuses. All the classes watch an animated version and, whilst in Latin they form part of the classical background section, in Greek, towards the end of the course, the boys read a simplified version of the Odyssey in the classical language to help revision and reading fluency.

Arabic is also offered as an after-school activity. In conjunction with a small number of other schools, St Anthony’s prepares the boys for the ISEB Certificate in Arabic, intended for “non-native speakers.” Although we start using transliteration, gradually the script is introduced, so that boys learn to read and write as well as understand and speak. Again, those who are prepared to make the necessary commitment have achieved most impressive results.