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Latin and Greek tragedy

The AQA exam board are planning to scrap GCSE and A-level Latin and Greek from September 2006. They arrived at this decision having failed to consult any classics teachers, or anyone else for that matter.

In the final event, they didn't even have the nerve to announce this move to schools, but left it to Qualifications and Curriculum Authority to announce it for them.

Regardless of the rather dishonest way AQA went about taking this decision, it may seem fair enough that another board, OCR, will continue to offer both languages.

Regrettably, however, things are not that straightforward. Although OCR has a larger share of the market overall, entry figures show AQA is the board of choice for non-selective state school - the kind of schools classics teachers most need to appeal to if they want to broaden access to their subject and ensure its survival.

AQA's course is considerably more flexible, and also more accessible to less linguistically gifted pupils.

Also, monopolies are never beneficial, particularly in this case, when the monopoly may well result in the languages being rendered inaccessible to all but the most able.

For decades, classics teachers have been striving, often with great ingenuity, to make these languages accessible to as wide an ability range as possible, and to gain some foothold in the comprehensive sector. If AQA scraps its provision, this will be a serious retrograde step and confirm the regrettable and undeserved reputation classical languages have for being inherently "elitist".

Jon Davies Trainee classics teacher King Edward VI grammar school Chelmsford, Essex

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