first_imgGabriel commented, ‘More than any open day or Oxbridge talk the course was responsible for my application to Oxford as a pupil from a state school.”“It gave me the confidence to know that I would be able to embark upon a degree at Oxford, a degree heavily weighted towards language learning, and be able to hold my own amongst some students who had enjoyed teaching in ancient languages consistently since primary school.”French and Italian student Emma Obertelli also took Latin at GCSE and A-Level. She thinks the subject is good training for any budding linguist.She told Cherwell, “Latin gave me a really good grasp of language and structure. The history and literature are also really interesting. Most people don’t get to study the Romans in much detail after primary school so it is a good opportunity.”Emma wasn’t sure that Latin was the best way for the university to use its outreach programme.She said, “While I really enjoyed studying Latin and got a lot out of it I think there are loads of other areas that are more important and would be more beneficial to state schools.”Many other current Oxford students claimed they hadn’t missed much by not taking the ancient language at GCSE.St Edmund Hall Pharmacology postgraduate Tom McLean studied Latin for a year at Whitney’s The Henry Box School but decided not to pursue the subject at GCSE.He commented, “I enjoyed the part of Latin where you learned about civilisation but I found the language study pretty dry. I had heard that the GCSE was really hard and I didn’t really want to take another language because I didn’t really see how it would benefit me in the long run.”“These days I kind of regret not doing the GCSE. It’s not because it would have helped me, but I liked the history and it might have been interesting to learn more about that.”St Hugh’s PGCE student William Irving, who took compulsory Latin lessons between Year 7 and Year 9 at Reigate Grammar School, regretted not appreciating the subject’s benefits when he dropped it before GCSE. William, who read Biology at Leeds University, said: “I didn’t enjoy studying Latin when I was at school because I thought it was a dead language that I wouldn’t ever have to use.“I didn’t realise that studying it would help with my other languages at school. Now that I’m a bit older I have a better appreciation of how helpful it can be to study Latin.” Latin GCSE is staging a comeback in Oxfordshire in 2015 thanks to an innovative outreach programme being re-launched by Oxford University’s Classics Faculty.The notoriously difficult subject is currently only taught in three Oxfordshire state schools but Oxford Classics Faculty Latin Teaching Scheme (OXLAT) will offer support to 17 local state schools that want to start teaching the subject. The scheme was originally established in 2008, but was suspended in 2012 when its funding was withdrawn. The Stonehouse Educational Foundation is funding the re-launch as part of a wider national initiative to increase Latin study.Oxford’s Regius Professor of Greek, Christopher Pelling, was appointed by former Education Secretary Michael Gove to lead the nationwide increase in Latin study. He praised OXLAT’s potential to broaden Oxford’s undergraduate admissions and enrich state school education. He said,“I was very lucky myself to go to a terrific state school which gave me my own opportunities, including that of learning classical languages. I am so pleased that we can offer something similar to a new generation.”“We regard this scheme as very important because we know that there are many children out there that don’t have the same opportunities to study Latin or Classics as their counterparts would have had a generation or so ago.This programme is at least something we can do for those in our own back yard.”The 30 participants will be taught two hours of Latin every Saturday morning for two and a half years before taking the exam. It is hoped many of them will go on to study the subject at A-Level or university.Gabriel Naughton, who is reading Classics at St John’s College, took part in the original scheme and earned an A* in Latin GCSE in 2010. He said the program contributed significantly to his subsequent academic success.last_img read more