Campaign brings GCSE to Leeds school

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Classes in GCSE classics have started for the first time at a state school in Leeds after a teacher secured grant funding for books and support.

Classics graduate and history teacher Gemma Williams had campaigned to introduce the subject at Allerton Grange School with the support of headteacher Mike Roper.

She said access to such subjects shouldn’t be restricted to those in private education after it emerged Allerton Grange is now the only state secondary to offer Classical Civilisation at GCSE and one of only three at A Level.

“I was really lucky, my school taught both Classics and Latin,” she said. “It never seemed unusual, until I began university and it emerged the vast majority of my classmates had been privately educated.

“The subject is becoming restricted to the privileged. I really don’t think that’s fair. It’s such an incredibly rich subject, crucial to understanding history and culture. Just because we are an inner-city secondary, that doesn’t mean we can’t offer it.”

Miss Williams, who is also now holding after-school Latin lessons to encourage youngsters to take up the subject, had approached charities and trusts to apply for grants.

“The school will pay for the teaching time, and we’ve managed to secure £3,000 in grants to buy all the textbooks,” said Miss Williams. “This has taken two years, but we’ve got 16 GCSE students now.

Mr Roper, headteacher, said: “We are extremely pleased to bring a new and exciting subject into our curriculum, which reflects our highly aspirational vision. Many thanks to Classics for All, The Roman Society and the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies whose support has made this possible.”