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While even some independent schools have given up on Latin, Kirkcaldy High has a flourishing department with two teachers. There are 16 pupils in this year's Higher class, which is particularly surprising considering no one chose to study Higher French.

Judith Kerr, depute headteacher, said: "As soon as they made modern languages compulsory, the kids who wanted to do them switched off. That killed modern languages. As a maths teacher, I know the struggle to motivate pupils in a compulsory subject. They just don't see the value of French."

But they do see the value in Latin. Head of classics is Jennifer Shearer, who explains why the Fife youngsters in her school choose classical studies and Latin rather than French: "I think it's the way we teach it. We do Roman fashion shows and banquets and they read Harry Potter in Latin. I have a motto - Latin is the key because it unlocks vocabulary, science, law and improves their English."

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