Remote learning

For remote learning information for Latin and Classics please click here.


About us

Ms Sams (Head of Department) –  with an MA (Cantab) in Classics: Latin and Ancient Greek from Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge, Ms Sams enjoys all aspects of Classics, from literature to linguistics, and history to archaeology. She is very enthusiastic about keeping Latin and Classics relevant and particularly enjoys discussing the reception of Classics in modern culture. 

Mr Pontin - after graduating from Balliol College, University of Oxford with a BA in Classics, Mr Pontin followed the well-trodden path of many a classical figure into a career in law. He worked as a solicitor in the City of London, with additional stints in Frankfurt and Milan, but soon his passion for Classics won out and he happily retrained as a teacher to share his love of classical languages and cultures.


The Aims of the Department

The Department is committed to offering a stimulating and rewarding Classical education for boys from Years 7 to 13. We use language, literature and our own artefacts to access the fascinating history of ancient civilisations in the classroom and we offer as many opportunities as possible to take pupils on trips to see Classical wonders first-hand. 


We passionately believe that our subjects can prepare the boys at Watford Grammar for any future that they may dream of. They will develop a wide range of skills, which will be applicable to any academic or career path. The study of the Latin language creates highly analytical and curious learners, as they are taught to both focus in on the details of grammar and evaluate ancient literature in its original form. The variety of topics taught in Classical Civilisation, such as Art, Architecture, Drama and PRE develops well-rounded and adaptable pupils.


The Classical subjects work very well beside all of the other subjects in the school and are regularly the subjects that bring linguists, scientists, artists and historians together. We believe there is something for everyone here in the Classics Department! 


Classics teaching at Watford Boys

Year 7 Latin.

All pupils learn Latin in Year 7 for one period a week on a Half Termly rotation with PSHE. They complete Stages 1 & 2 of the popular Cambridge Latin Course, which is a colourful mixture of Latin and the culture of the Romans, with the help of an unique work booklet created by the Department. Topics studied include: The City of Pompeii, Roman Houses, the Roman gods and Roman food. We also focus on the importance of Latin’s ability to influence learning Modern Foreign Languages.  

Year 8 Latin  

We complete Book 1 of the Cambridge Latin Course as the Second Language option, with two hours of lessons each week. Latin continues to combine learning of the Latin language with studying the Roman World. Topics studied include: Gladiators, slavery, the Roman theatre, The Underworld, the Eruption of Mt Vesuvius and the destruction of Pompeii.

GCSE (Year 9, 10 &11)

Latin. The boys will continue to develop their linguistic skills with the help of the Cambridge Latin Course up to Book 4; they will experience different cultural backgrounds, as the characters bounce across the Mediterranean between Britain, Egypt and Rome. Half way through Year 10, they will begin their study of literature in the original Latin; an almost unique opportunity for pupils at that age. We currently use the new syllabus of Eduqas/WJEC, which has most of the material freely available online.

Classical Civilisation. We start the course with a study of the wonders of Ancient Egypt (the Pyramids, mummification, Egyptian gods, etc) and Persia to gain an understanding of what makes a civilisation, before we move on to the Classical World and begin the OCR course.

  1. Myth and Religion - we study in depth the gods of Ancient Greece and Rome and how they impacted on the way people lived, behaved and believed. Temples, sacrifice, art, myths and legends are all studied to help gain an understanding of human behaviour and the power of religion.
  2. Roman City Life - we examine key aspects of Roman civilisation, from where they lived to how they lived, including housing, the gladiators, chariot racing and slavery. The cities of Rome and Ostia provide many examples for our examination, as well as the buried cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. 


Sixth Form


The OCR A Level course provides the opportunity for consolidation and extension of grammar and language learning, which is tested by unseen translation of an adapted passage and of a shorter piece of original Latin by a specified author. We then study one prose set text and one verse set text, which is tested by comprehension and essay questions. The set texts currently selected for examination have been published as follows:
For examination in 2020 and 2021:
Prose set texts: Cicero, Philippic II, 44–50; 100–119  and Apuleius, Metamorphoses V, 11–24 
Verse set texts: Virgil, Aeneid, Book XI 1–224, 498–521, 532–596, 648–689, 725–835

Ancient History

This new OCR A Level allows our pupils to explore the Ancient Greek and Roman Worlds in even greater depth.

In Year 12 , the study focuses on the unfolding narrative of the relations between the Greek city-states, particularly Athens and Sparta, and between Greek city-states and the Persian Empire during the period 492–404 BC. At the same time, we are looking at the establishment and development of the Roman principate under Emperors Augustus, Tiberius, Gaius, Claudius and Nero. There is a particular focus on the military, social, religious and political issues of the Roman Empire.

In Year 13 we complete two depth studies- one addressing the ‘The Politics and Society of Sparta between 478 and 404 BC’; and the other focusing on ‘Ruling Roman Britain between AD 43 – 128.’


‘Learners will be required to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of, and the ability to analyse and evaluate the significance of, events, individuals, groups, developments and ideas in the topic studied in order to reach substantiated judgements. Each depth study requires the critical use of ancient source material in analysing and evaluating historical questions, problems and issues. Different types of evidence need to be analysed and evaluated…Learners will be required to demonstrate the ability to create their own evidence-based structured arguments, selecting, organising and communicating their knowledge and understanding of both the historical events studied and the ancient source material to reach substantiated conclusions.’                                                      OCR Specification



The Department has developed an outstanding resource collection. We have acquired many Classical books over the years and an extensive digital image and DVD library to help present the Ancient World in a modern way. We also make use of an impressive collection of original and replica objects, ranging from full-size replica helmets and weapons to real pieces unearthed from the volcanic ash of Pompeii itself!


Extra-curricular activities

The Department offers a Classics Club on Tuesday lunchtimes for all those interested in all things to do with the Ancient World. This year we have introduced lectures that are being delivered by our A Level students to the younger years to encourage independent research and presentation opportunities and bring the range of year groups together. 

We also regularly make visits abroad to enable our students to see and appreciate the evidence of the actual statue, building or location that we have studied in the classroom. Over the past years, we have taken trips to Italy, Greece, Egypt, France and Germany. This academic year, we have organised an upper-school trip to the Opera in collaboration with the Music Department to see a production of ‘Orpheus and the Underworld’ at the London Coliseum. With the addition of Ancient History A Level, we will be exploring Hadrian’s Wall with the Sixth Form for the first time this March, we will be taking year 9 and 10 students to Rome and Pompeii in May and year 8 students will get to visit the British Museum to see the new exhibition 'Troy' in February. 

We are always making sure that there are a wealth of opportunities for boys across the school to be involved in Classics both inside and outside of the classroom.