Latin and Greek GCSEs have lost much of their “intellectual force” and should be replaced by tougher new O-level-style exams, say campaigners.
Students who take the subjects at Oxford receive lessons in basic grammar and syntax because their school education has been so lacking, according to the Parliament Street report. Too often, the report argues, the school syllabus is closer to studying classical civilisation than the language.
“There is (deliberately) no systematic learning of grammar and syntax and emphasis is laid on fast reading of a dramatic continuous story in made-up Latin which gives scope for looking at aspects of ancient life,” it adds. “GCSEs should be replaced by a modern version of the O-level that stretches pupils and does not hamstring them as at present.”
The pamphlet also argues that Latin should be a core part of the curriculum – rather than the preserve of independent and selective state grammar schools, “There is a substantial body of evidence that children who study Latin outperform their peers when it comes to reading, reading comprehension and vocabulary,” pamphlet author, John N Davie, said. Only 13 per cent of state secondary schools in the UK offer Latin.