The English Baccalaureate - Education Committee Contents

Written evidence submitted by Judith Mossman, Professor of Classics, University of Nottingham

1.  As a former Chair of the Joint Association of Classical Teachers Classical Civilisation Committee I write to express my concern at the omission of Classical Civilisation from the list of humanities subjects which are deemed acceptable for the English Baccalaureate. It is excellent news that Ancient History does appear on the list, but if Classical Civilisation does not, then a number of schools, where it has kept classics alive over the years will drop it (up to 40% of schools have said they will have no choice but to do so), and thus close off for far too many pupils an important route to the benefits of a classical education. This is, I trust, an unintended consequence of this reform which you will be anxious to avoid.

2.  You need have no fears that classical civilisation is an insufficiently rigorous subject: the syllabus as presently taught is extremely wide-ranging and provides opportunities to study substantial numbers of classical set books in detail, aspects of ancient history, and a substantial period of classical art history as well. This interdisciplinary approach is an excellent preparation for a university classics course, and promotes the development of critical thinking and the ability to call on evidence of various kinds for the understanding of classical culture.

3.  Another matter for concern is the absence of the WJEC exam from the E-Bac. This is an excellent exam which is sat by over 4,000 pupils and which has helped many schools recover Latin, an aim which I know you have been anxious to promote.

4.  I therefore ask you most earnestly to add Classical Civilisation to the list of humanities subjects and add WJEC to the list of acceptable examinations.

5.  Please believe that these changes, far from undermining your overall project to restore academic rigour to our schools, will materially assist in so doing, and will strengthen the other laudable measures you are taking to harness the power of classical subjects to improve educational standards.

21 March 2011

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Prepared 28 July 2011