From literature to art, architecture to philosophy, drama to politics, the Classical world has had a significant impact upon the culture of Europe and beyond. The Classics Department at The New Beacon seeks to develop in the boys an awareness of and enthusiasm for Classical Antiquity, and also to explore its enduring impact over the past two millennia and its continuing relevance in the 21st century.
Latin is begun by the most able boys in Year 6, with a further set beginning in Year 7. Ancient Greek is introduced to the streamed form in Year 7; the language is also available as an after-school activity for those interested and fascinates the boys with its ‘exotic’ alphabet. Those boys who do not take up Latin study Classical Civilization, which supports key literacy skills via the study of Ancient Greece and Rome.
The boys follow a rigorous course in preparation for 13+ Common Entrance and Scholarship examinations, with great emphasis in translating from English into Latin, and they develop a wide variety of skills. Understanding the structures of Classical languages improves their ability to apply logical thought; the grammar and roots of the English language are reinforced and links are made with Modern European languages; there are opportunities to explore the myths and history of the ancient world through philosophy, storytelling and drama.
The Department also runs a Philosophy Club, which meets once a week, providing the boys with a lively opportunity to think and discuss with one another without the pressure or expectation of finding answers.
Recent trips have included the Jason and the Argonauts at the Unicorn Theatre in London and Bignor Roman Villa in West Sussex. The department also holds an in-house Dionysia festival, when boys in Year 6 perform a short classical play in the open air, with props, costumes and acting direction all undertaken by the pupils themselves, which is great fun for all involved.