The Classical Association is offering five bursaries for state sector teachers to study A level Classical Civilisation flexibly with NEC. Bursary recipients will be able to begin studying in September 2023 and to complete their Classical Civilisation A level either in June 2024 or June 2025.

Gráinne Cassidy, Education Co-ordinator at The Classical Association and Claire Woozley, Regional Lead Practitioner for English at Ormiston Academies and a current student on NEC’s A level Classical Civilisation course, joined us to present a webinar on The Case for Classics in Schools. 

In Part 1 of this ‘long-read’ blog series adapted from the webinar, Gráinne looks at the benefits to schools of offering Classics to your students. 

You can watch the full webinar here

The closing date for applications for the bursaries is 8th September 2023. You can read more about the bursaries and how to apply on our website

The benefits of offering Classics to your students

‘Classics’ typically refers to the study of the ancient Mediterranean world, traditionally centering on the civilisations of Greece and Rome. More recently the study of Classics has widened to reflect the diverse nature of these ancient civilisations, recognising that they encompass lands and peoples from the near East right the way through to the British Isles. 

With the diversifying of the discipline comes the opportunity for students and teachers to explore all manner of topics:

  • Ancient languages – this doesn’t just mean Latin and Greek
  • Literature
  • History
  • Politics
  • Art and Architecture
  • Philosophy
  • Society and Culture
  • Religion.

As classicists and ancient historians we are unique in having access to how the Ancients thought and learnt and behaved and lived in every sphere of their lives. 

Peter Jones, classicist and author pointed out that the ancient world grappled with exactly the same issues that we do: life, death, gods, sex, love, family, children, education, the nature of the world, our origins and development, the past, money, health, status, other cultures, friendship, power, patriotism, politics, law, crime, justice, empire and war. 

It’s through Classics that we are able to study the human experience of the ancient world and it’s the recognition and understanding of the cultural differences between the ancient and modern worlds that shape our own human experiences in the way that we analyse the world around us. 

With such a breadth of topics to explore, as students and teachers of the ancient world we acquire a broad range of skills. Classics is a discipline and so we become armed with a wide range of coveted skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, research and analytics, creativity, empathy and collaboration. 

As teachers, Classics provides your students with skills that are much sought after in a wide range of degree programmes and occupations, and which make them really stand out in the crowd.  

Looking beyond GCSE and A level and thinking about students’ educational journey, Classics and Ancient History open the door to a variety of degree programmes. Traditionally studying Classics at university meant studying Greek and Latin. That isn’t the case anymore. 

There are many classical degrees on offer and it is possible to pair Classics and Ancient History with many subjects including Drama, English, Philosophy, Oriental Studies, Modern Foreign Languages, History and Archaeology. 

That is just a snapshot. There are many other iterations of degree programmes that students can undertake. Students don’t need to have studied Greek and Latin in school to get onto these courses and neither do they have to study them. Many universities offer courses based on the ancient world that look at ancient source material in translation or which are paired with other subjects where there are no ancient language requirements.  

Studying Classics and Ancient History at school doesn’t mean that it’s only classical degrees or a classical career path that is on offer to students. Studying Classics at school can set students up for any manner of humanities degrees as it is such a good foundational discipline that encompasses a broad range of subject areas. 

The skills that are required within Classics are useful to whichever field of study students go on to choose, and are highly valued in STEM degrees and STEM jobs. 

Often these two subject areas are pitted against one another, but Classics actually really complements the sciences because the origins of so many of the subjects can be traced all the way back to the Greeks. The close source analysis that comes as part of Classics and Ancient History qualifications really trains students to become analytical and critical thinkers.

Universities who offer courses in hugely popular degree programmes (and sought after jobs) such as Computer Science, Games Development, eSports and Animation, for example, welcome students of all backgrounds. Many universities and colleges are looking for dynamic individuals with transferable skills. These sorts of degrees don’t have GCSE or A level equivalents and course leaders for these new and exciting courses are seeking students who can demonstrate that they are curious, that they can think outside the box and that they can problem solve whatever challenges are put their way. 

Classicists and ancient historians are well placed to enter the technological arena and STEM. As human beings on a daily basis we absorb not only literature, art, music and watching other nations interact with one another, we have also studied and understood how the ancients did this too.  

It’s this knowledge of these human experiences, both ancient and modern, that is vital in the construction of AI and virtual realities. 

We are living through a remarkable era with science and technology very rapidly merging human life with machines. Now we are beginning to see conversations from leaders in this field heed caution over how we use AI before we no longer have control over it. As students of the ancient world, the long lens through which we look deep into the past helps us better understand cause and action and consequence, perhaps more than any other subject.

This means students can contribute to these conversations just as much as students with a STEM background, and their perspectives are just as valid. 

Skills gained in a classical classroom don’t just apply to university or college courses, they apply to the workplace as well. Classics feed into the ever-changing landscape of Europe. We are living in a very fast-paced world with the rise of technology automating skills that previously were learnt. But skills learnt through Arts and Humanities qualifications will never become redundant, and are in fact becoming ever more sought after.

There are few post-18 courses that are directly applicable to so many of the new and exciting job opportunities that are available. Increasingly employers are seeking graduates who are flexible, creative, open-minded and articulate, and the skills that are gained from studying the 5th Century BC are totally indispensable in the 21st Century. Classics and Ancient History graduates or students of the classical world, at whichever level they are studying, are critical thinkers and excellent communicators. They are adaptable, curious, and possess skills which employers are actively seeking in their employees. 

Classics provides us with a deep understanding of factors that shaped society, a very well-formed awareness of the viewpoints of others, and an appreciation of a very diverse range of cultural identities. These are the skills that are fundamental to the successful running of a forward thinking and harmonious workplace. 

Offering classics and ancient history in school, at whichever level, and giving students access to the classical world, not only helps diversity and broaden the curriculum but more importantly equips students with the skills that will make them the dynamic individuals that are much sought after in both post-18 education and the wider world.  

Who are the Classical Association?

The Classical Association is one of the UK’s largest Classics charities and the subject association for the discipline in the UK. It is a national organisation with both local and international links, and promotes and advocates for Classics and Ancient History, seeking to provide professional development as well as community opportunities. It is a ‘learner society’, supporting academics as well as educators and students, and aims to make the classical world engaging and accessible to the general public. 

Visit their website for more information or contact Gráinne at:

In Part 2 of this ‘long-read’ blog series, Claire will share her reflections on how she has built Classics within her school’s network, how she has managed to study A level Classical Civilisation alongside her other commitments, and why teachers should consider studying Classics.  

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