floreat fiducia is the school motto – ‘let confidence flourish’. Despite this being a beautiful example of a jussive subjunctive, to enable pupils to translate Latin mottos, nor yet to help them become doctors or appreciate the debt the English language owes to Latin or to have bragging rights over those who’ve not been given the opportunity – none of these is the reason why Latin is taught at Beeston. So what is?

Latin, through its very irrelevance to everyday life, is the ideal subject whereby to help students think outside the box. As an inflected language it is more like a code to be deciphered, and the machine used to break that code is a system, developed over 38 years of teaching by Mr. Burnell, he has called Clausework,which aims to reveal the secrets of Latin’s ‘magic circle’ to pupils of all ability. It was no accident that the majority of those working at Bletchley Park in WWII on breaking the Enigma Code were mathematicians and classicists.

All pupils at Beeston will begin to study Latin in Year 6

All pupils at Beeston will begin to study Latin in Year 6 and hopefully continue through to a suitable level, from Common Entrance Levels 1-3 to the scholarships to various senior schools (often beyond GCSE standard) over the next 3 years. Individual and collaborative work is encouraged in the belief that if the teacher is the hub of the wheel of learning and the pupils the individual spokes, the rim of communication between those spokes is also vital to the function of the whole.

To those who maintain that Latin is a ‘dead language’, I reply ‘no more than Mozart’s Requiem is a ‘dead’ piece of music – over 70% of world literature is written in Latin, including gems like Virgil’s Aeneid which is studied as early as GCSE. To the question posed to the CEO of BP as to why he persisted in employing classics graduates before all others, his reply was both pithy and telling: ‘They sell more oil.’


Gareth Burnell

MEd. (Cantab.), BA (Hons.), F.R.G.S

Gareth Burnell arrived this year as Head of Department having run Classics at Gresham’s for the last 12 years. His career spans 37 years, 25 of which were in prep schools. He strongly believes in Latin for all abilities for the subject’s value in teaching pupils how to think outside the box and to stretch their mind no matter their natural ‘ingenium’. He encourages pupils to be both competitive and collaborative in the certain knowledge that they can learn from each other as well as from the teacher.

Outside the classroom, Mr Burnell is a Reserve Naval Officer, a Kayak Coach and a Powerboat Instructor, skills which he intends to pass on to Beeston pupils at any opportunity. He is also 6’ 3’’ and a ‘silver-fox’ which always helps with classroom presence!