How wet – those nasty exams

Whenever school students are interviewed at the moment about the time left before they sit examinations next summer they complain that they have been let down and tell us how hard they have been working. If they are capable of working hard then what are they worried about?

Here is a challenge for them.

When I decided that I should take GCSE Latin there were only six weeks left before the examination. I picked up Ecce Romani, published by the Scottish Classics Group and got stuck in.

Thirty years earlier I had given up on Latin at grammar school after only six weeks and used to take my copy of the Famer and Stockbreeder to read at the back of the class. I never took an A-level and after ten years in farming I trained to teach English. As deputy head of a school that competed with grammar schools with proper classics departments I thought that a taste of Latin would be good for our kids.

First I had to make a start. I taught myself with the help of Ecce Romani and then helped an after-school club to try Latin. After a year one sixth-former passed with a B then went for an interview at Sheffield University. What, they demanded to know, what was a girl from a comprehensive doing with GCSE Latin? She told them about the after-school club and suddenly the doors were opened wide for her. There were no more questions.

For goodness sake stop whinging, boys and girls, and show the world what you are made of.

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