Latin's too much like hard yakka

7th July 1995 at 01:00
The upsurge of republicanism in Australia has coincided with the ditching of Latin school mottoes that are seen to be too reminiscent of Mother England.

Antique, and often unintelligible mottoes, such as Ad altiora (to higher things) are being dropped in favour of Aussie expressions that are equally incomprehensible to Poms and Latin scholars. "Fair go" and "Hard Yakka" (hard work) are two favourites.

Another cryptic addition to the new generation of mottoes is "If you don't dig the hole, the post will fall over", which may (or may not) be another celebration of the value of hard work.

The gradual disappearance of the Latin motto has been charted by two Australian academics, John Synott and Colin Symes, who have examined the uniforms, badges and mottoes of more than 500 Queensland schools.

They have concluded that state schools generally choose a phrase that stresses the importance of work and aspiration (Per ardua ad augusta: through hard work to the top) whereas private schools invariably want to reflect goals that are spiritual (Fortes in fide: strong in faith) or chivalric (Honor supra honores: honour above glory).

The Queensland University lecturers also contend that every school motto can be placed in one of six categories: chivalry, religion, knowledge, achievement and aspiration, work, or combinations. But some of the mottoes they collected seem to defy classification: "Only my best for Gympie West" being a case in point.

The full account of Synott and Symes's research appears in the current issue of the British Journal of Sociology of Education, available from Carfax Publishing Company, PO Box 25, Abingdon, Oxfordshire OX14 3UE.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today