Classical greek to be smashed

4th March 2011 at 00:00

The future of classical Greek in Scotland is under serious threat, with the Scottish Qualifications Authority proposing that under the new qualifications no examination will be offered in this subject.

The phrases used of primary pupils relishing the challenges of ancient Greek language lessons in an Iris Project in England (TES Magazine, 18 February) - "enthused by the subject", "widening their opportunities", "confident (in handling the new letters of the Greek alphabet)", "enhancing their literacy", "life enriching" - will be familiar to anyone with even a passing acquaintance with Curriculum for Excellence.

As part of a literacy programme, these lessons gave pupils the opportunity to make connections between the ancient world and the 21st-century and to see the impact the ancient Greeks had on political and ethical thought in our society. Yet the opportunity to study classical Greek will be denied to Scottish pupils.

Breadth, challenge and added value - the purported aims of National 4 and 5 qualifications - are inherent within the learning of classical Greek, but the SQA has not given any reason for not developing classical Greek, other than an economic one. Its removal will make Scotland unique in Europe in not offering national examinations in the subject.

Developing classical Greek courses would parallel the current developments in Latin courses at little extra cost. Classics teachers would rise to the challenge of providing courses which produce successful learners, confident individuals and responsible citizens. The SQA should not deny future pupils the opportunity.

Allan M Bicket, head of classics, Robert Gordon's College, Aberdeen.

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