Dear Gavin Williamson: nobody cares about Latin

Gavin Williamson leaving No 10

Education secretary Gavin Williamson - Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Who cares about Latin?

Apparently, Gavin Williamson.

So much so he’s reintroducing the ancient language into 40 state secondaries in a bizarre attempt to bring it to the masses.

Currently, 49pc of private schools teach the subject – but only 3pc of their state-funded counterparts bother.

According to our enlightened secretary of state for education, the resolution is to make sure state school and private school pupils are “learning the same thing”.


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In other words, level-up the poor people and lift them out of their Latin-deprived little lives.

But is that really the most important thing state school students miss out on?

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I went to Cambridge to study history. I came from a normal background in Gateshead and went to a decent state school.

A disproportionate amount of the rest of the uni went to private school.

What stood out to me most when they recalled memories of their £30k-a-year education wasn’t that they got to study a language which helps with “logic”.

It was that there were 10 pupils in their English, science and maths lessons, and about half as many teachers.

It was the extra tuition, the connections, the Oxbridge prep, the option to study Russian or Mandarin, the insane sports facilities which put my local leisure centre to shame.

Maybe the government should consider sorting out these basic inequalities first?

Or the fact that in the subjects which are supposedly the same — maths, sciences, English — private school pupils still outperform their state equivalents.

Besides, it’s pretty elitist in itself to assume an understanding of Latin is part of a “higher culture”.

I don’t know Latin and I feel pretty “enriched” already.

And if there’s anything I want to avoid at all costs, it’s having common-ground with Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg.


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