“Non scholae sed vitae discimus … we do not learn for school but for life”


Why learn Latin?

Why study a dead language? Why not study something ‘practical and useful’? Like Spanish, for instance.

Enhancing children’s vocabulary and promoting a love of reading and language is at the heart of everything we do. Latin is a natural fit for our vision of building better ‘sticky’ knowledge for long term learning in a range of subjects. We teach concepts like ‘democracy’ and ‘monarchy’ in history but we need to do even more to help our pupils make meaningful, rich connections between those words. When pupils are making connections between the root or roots of a word they are creating a larger picture of meaning. In doing this, they are making links to the long-term memory. In this way they will know more, remember more.

As a staff we believe that we should be capitalising more in our pupils’ interest in and playfulness with big words. We believe that we should be talking to them more about where words they came from and also the roots of the words, which are usually from Latin and Greek. In every curriculum area at St. Michael's there are concepts and key vocabulary which pupils need to grasp and to use with confidence.

Since Latin lies at the root of 60% of English words, studying it has a beneficial  impact on development of English vocabulary  across a range of subjects – such as science, geography and history – and language skills in general.

Half of our words come from Latin!
We all understand the importance of phonics, the systematic study of the English letters and their sounds. But phonics only covers half of our language, the English half, those good old concrete words that children learn to speak and read first. But then we stop, even though there is another half of English that has a whole new set of root words, spelling, and pronunciation patterns.
English, you see, is a hybrid language, a marriage of two languages—English and Latin. The name English comes from the Angles who, along with the Saxons and other barbarians, invaded Britain after the fall of Rome in the 5th century. English is a Germanic language and, the Germans being barbarians, had mostly concrete, common, everyday words, the words children learn to speak and read first in primary school.
But, beginning in year three, children start to encounter the Latin half of English. Latin words are bigger, harder, have more syllables, more abstract meanings, and different pronunciation and spelling patterns.

Aspiring for a university education
Approximately 60 percent of independent schools offer Latin compared with only 16 per cent of state schools.
The 'classics' are indivisibly attached to class difference. No matter how many state schools take it up, Latin and Greek have historically been the preserve of fee-paying schools, Oxbridge candidates and, ultimately, the ruling elite. We may see the Roman and Greek world in television history programming and in blockbuster movies, but we read their words inscribed on the walls of buildings where power reside.


Our intent for the teaching of Latin is to teach children in a rich, balanced and progressive curriculum, using Latin to support vocabulary development, a deeper understanding of grammatical structures in English and foreign languages and for children to investigate the derivatives of language alongside historical stories. The teaching of Latin follows a clear progression in line with age-related expectations. It equips children with linguistic knowledge, cultural capital and provide purposeful links to other topics in the national curriculum to foster pupils’ curiosity and deepen their understanding of the world. 

Pupils will be taught to: 

  • Listen attentively to spoken language and show understanding by joining in and responding 
  • Explore the patterns and sounds of language through songs and rhymes and link the spelling, sound and meaning of words
  • Speak in sentences, using familiar vocabulary, phrases and basic language structures
  • Read carefully and show understanding of words, phrases and simple writing
  • Appreciate stories, songs, poems and rhymes in the language
  • Broaden their vocabulary and develop their ability to understand new words that are introduced into familiar written material, including through using a dictionary
  • Write phrases from memory, and adapt these to create new sentences, to express ideas clearly
  • Describe people, places, things and actions in writing
  • Understand basic grammar appropriate to the language being studied, including (where relevant): feminine, masculine and neuter forms and the conjugation of high-frequency verbs; key features and patterns of the language; how to apply these, for instance, to build sentences; and how these differ from or are similar to English.


Latin is taught via custom designed curriculum workbooks, aligned to Maximum Classics schemes of work to ensure teaching is designed to help learners to remember, in the long-term, the content they have been taught and to integrate new knowledge into larger concepts.  
Retrieval practice is a fundamental part of our Latin curriculum as it is proven to strengthen memory and make it easier to retrieve the information later. Opportunities for retrieval practise occur in two places in the curriculum:  

  • Weekly review to activate prior learning forms the start of most lessons.  
  • Retrieval practice of core knowledge will happen on three separate spaced occasions away from the point of teaching the topic. This should support children in securing long-term knowledge acquisition. 

Key Stage 2 pupils are taught Latin weekly via a 60-minute lesson. 
Each lesson builds on prior learning and supplements the teaching of spelling, punctuation and grammar, as well as history.

Upon initial implementation of teaching of Latin at St. Michael's (September 2021), Years 3-6 had the same starting point on the programme of study. From September 2023, Year 3  are taught three termly units, Year 4 are taught three termly units, while Year 5 cover six half-termly units.  
Each unit of work is planned to build on prior learning and provide a foundation for the next unit. As an example, Unit 1 begins with the origins of language and units progress through to writing complex sentences and reading stories in Latin. Additionally, at the start of each lesson, prior learning is reviewed to consolidate knowledge and commit learning to long-term memory. 

Course Content: Spelling and Grammar 

  1. Verb endings
  2. Noun endings
  3. Subject and object
  4. Singular and plural
  5. Doing and being verbs
  6. Verb phrases
  7. Adjectives
  8. Prepositions
  9. Possession
  10. Etymology 

Course Content: Classical Studies 

  1. Geography of the Classical World 
  2. Ancient Greek alphabet 
  3. Ancient Greek and Roman myths 
  4. Roman Gods and Goddesses 
  5. Ancient Greek pottery 
  6. Curse tablets 
  7. Ancient Roman baths 
  8. Ancient Roman games and pastimes 
  9. Ancient Roman warfare 
  10. Ancient Roman medical advancements 
  11. Plato and philosophy 
  12. Ancient Greek numbers
  13. Etymology of dinosaur names 
  14. Ancient Greek Olympics 
  15. Linnaean Hierarchy and the importance of Latin in modern science 
  16. Homer's Iliad 
  17. Aristotle 
  18. Constellations and astronomy 
  19. Roman numerals 
  20. Pythagoras
  21.  Metamorphoses


Pupil Voice will show:

  • A developed understanding of Latin including phonics, grammar and vocabulary
  • A secure understanding of the key techniques and methods for each key area of the languages curriculum: speaking and listening, reading and writing.
  • A progression of understanding, with appropriate vocabulary which supports and extends understanding.
  • Confidence in discussing their own work and identifying their own strengths and areas for development. 
  • A secure understanding of how knowledge gained in Latin lessons develops learning across the curriculum including reading and spelling.


Displays around school and books will show:

  • Pupils have had opportunities for practice and refinement of knowledge.
  • A varied and engaging curriculum which develops a range of language knowledge.
  • Clear progression of knowledge in line with expectations set out in the progression documents.


The subject leader will:

  • Collate appropriate evidence over time which evidences that pupils know more and remember more.
  • Monitor the standards in the subject to ensure the outcomes are at expected levels.
  • Provide ongoing CPD support based on the outcomes of subject monitoring to ensure that the impact of the curriculum is wide reaching and positive.