Latin and Greek
Ipsa scientia potestas est:
knowledge itself is power.
Belhaven has a dynamic Classics department with an excellent Common Entrance and Scholarship record. The department works hard to keep Classics at the forefront of the curriculum within the school and this involves not only providing a rigorous and organised approach to teaching the subject, but also maintaining a realistic, innovative and up-to-date awareness of how to enthuse today's children of all abilities. Teaching consists of a blend of styles, ranging from textbook work to using the very latest resources on iPads and fun language and word-games.
The children start their studies of Classics in Form 4 where they begin their background experiences of the language, through study of the ancient world, its people and day-to-day life and the way older civilisations perceived the world at that time. At this stage, children begin to discover a variety of Greek myths.
Children are put into sets from Form 3 onwards. The focus is more clearly on the Latin language, while maintaining a clear connection with the cultural context, such as learning about the Romans' impact on Britain. Studies of this are continued on a regular basis right through to Form 1 through continued study of mythology, the Roman army, early Roman legends and also all aspects of life in Rome during the time of empire. A visit to Hadrian's Wall is enjoyed by pupils in either their Form 2 or Form 1 years and in Form 2 children also get the chance to meet pupils from other prep schools at Fettes Latin Day, where along with contextual games and learning, the pupils' study of Latin vocabulary is tested in a fun environment. Around 95 per cent of pupils at Belhaven Hill take Latin through to Common Entrance and those few who do not retain study of the language itself are able to carry on through continued study of Classical Civilisation.
In 2013, Ancient Greek was added back into the curriculum after an absence of many years and top set pupils can choose to study this through to their Level 1 Common Entrance examination.
Much, but certainly not all, of the emphasis is on preparing children for the relevant Common Entrance and Scholarship examinations, but of equal importance is the child’s sense of achievement and enjoyment from studying Latin. Latin's future lies just as much in the hands of those pupils who might find the subject challenging as those to whom Latin academia comes more naturally. The true success of the Classics’ Department lies not in its enviable successes at Belhaven, but in the numbers of those pupils going on to study a classical subject at senior school and beyond into university. These numbers look very healthy indeed. The classical languages and culture belong to all and at Belhaven Hill everybody can gain something from the subject.