Classics Department

About us

Miss Streets (Head of Department) – with a BA (Hons) in Classics from The University of Leeds and a diploma in Musical Theatre, Miss Streets brings a theatrical flair to the Classics Department. Although she was once determined to pursue a career on the stage, Caecilius’ story was just too important not to be told. Born and raised in the world’s finest city (London of course!), she is very enthusiastic about keeping Latin and Classics relevant, youthful and very much alive. 

Mr Davies - a highly-trained and skilled Welshman (no oxymoron there), Mr Davies brings 30+ years of Classics teaching to the department. A specialist in Latin teaching, Mr Davies is Head of Latin from Year 9 onwards. He also displays a gift for making puns at any situation and at any opportunity. He has moved on from coaching rugby to shouting frantically from the touchline whatever he forgot to tell the B team beforehand.


The Aims of the Department

The department is committed to offering a complete and detailed Classical education for students from Year 7 to Year 13, providing learning opportunities not only in the Greek and Roman world but in the Ancient World as a whole – Egypt, Bronze Age Greece, Iron Age Europe, India and Persia.


At all stages we support and encourage our students interests through the Commitment to Classics initiative and we offer an advanced Gifted and Talented scheme for those who are particularly interested in the Greeks and Romans, their language and their culture.


While particularly interested in preparing candidates who will go on to study Classical subjects at university we also aim to develop a broad range of valuable skills in all our students regardless of which academic or career path they choose. We develop skills in history, art, drama, MFL and PRE as part of the legacy of the Classical World.


In general we intend for Classics to be a stimulating and rewarding part of anyone’s education at Watford Grammar School for Boys.


Classics teaching at Watford Boys

Year 7 Latin.

All students learn Latin in Year 7 for one period a week on Half Term rotation with PSHE. The students complete Stages 1 & 2 of the popular Cambridge Latin Course which is a colourful mixture of Latin and the culture of the Romans. Topics studied include: The City of Pompeii, Roman Houses, the Roman gods and Roman food. We also focus on the importance of Latin to Modern Foreign Languages and how useful Latin is to helping learn these.

Year 8 Latin  

Completes Book 1 of the popular Cambridge Latin Course as the Second Language option with two hours of lessons each week. Latin combines learning 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 with the Cambridge Latin Course up to the end of Book 4, savouring storylines ranging from murder and treason to philosophical punch-ups, and experiencing different backgrounds as the characters bounce across the Mediterranean between Britain, Egypt and Rome. In the later part of Year 10 they will begin their study of literature in the original Latin, an almost unique opportunity for students at that age. We currently use the new syllabus of Eduqas/WJEC, which has virtually all material freely available online.

Classical CivilisationWe start the course with a study of the wonders of Ancient Egypt (the Pyramids, mummification, Egyptian gods, etc) 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 where 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 where 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

Latin. The current AS scheme for the OCR exam involves (a) a consolidation and extension of grammar and language learning tested by unseen translation of an adapted passage and of a shorter piece of original Latin by a specified author (usually Cicero), and (b) study of one prose (usually a Cicero speech) and one verse (usually a piece of risqué Ovid) author tested by comprehension and translation questions. A2 is divided between Latin Verse and Latin Prose; these are tested by unseen comprehension and translation passages, and by essay questions on the set texts. The new spec for A level in the old two-year-study style will be revealed soon.


Classical Civilisation. The OCR course begins with a basic introduction to the Classical World and though the GCSE course is intended to provide an excellent background to the topics studied, no such previous experience with Classics is necessary for taking the course.

1. World of the Hero. What is a hero? What should a hero do? We study the ideas of the Ancient Greeks and Romans through the epic adventures of the famous Odysseus and the noble Aeneas. We examine  the concepts of destiny, courage, duty and leadership as well as the extraordinary physical and mental challenges they faced to complete their quests. The power of gods, the horror of monsters, the sufferings of war and the pain of loss and love are all vital parts of the greatest stories ever told: The Odyssey  and The Aeneid.


2. The Image of the Emperor. How one man’s genius created the idea of emperor and changed the image of power and the world of politics forever. A sickly youth of little distinction and importance smashed a 500 year old system of government and turned a republic into a superpower empire with himself as sole ruler. How did it happen?? Augustus’ genius is examined and the means with which he depicted himself as the Son of a God, First Among Equals, Father of his Country, Chief Priest, General and August. His military victories, imperial policies, lies, propaganda, family life, art and image are all studied to learn about one of history’s greatest and most influential characters.


3. Belief: Greek Religion. A detailed study of religion in the Greek world. Who were the gods of the Ancient Greeks? Why did they need them? What does a god look like? How can a god be imperfect?  How do you make a god listen? What is an Underworld? Questions such as these make this topic a fantastic opportunity to explore the idea of religion and examine its role in the lives of mortal men, from how the gods were worshipped to where they were worshipped, the morals that they taught and the hopes that they gave or destroyed. 



The department has developed an outstanding resource collection. In addition to the large stock in the Fuller Memorial Library the department has its own library of over 2000 books. An extensive digital image library, DVD and CDROM resource helps present the Ancient World in a modern way. We also make use of an extensive collection of original and replica objects, ranging from full-size replica helmets and weapons, a 600 year old edition of Livy and a 10000 year old flint axe!


Extra-curricular activities

The department offers a Classics Club on Wednesday lunchtimes for all those interested in all things to do with the Ancient World. A Gifted and Talented Club and a Mythology Club are also run by the students.


We also regularly visit Italy and Greece to enable our students to see and appreciate the evidence of the actual statue, building or location that we have studied in the classroom. We have also taken trips to Egypt, France and Germany to supplement our students’ appreciation of the Ancient World and its impact on the modern world.