At Classics for All we have long championed introducing classics into the UK state school sector, from brining Latin to primary schools to introducing ancient history onto the Key Stage 3 curriculum. But there is still a long way to go.

students at the university access day holding lego models of Ancient Greek architecture
Students at the University Access Project's Pilot Day at the University of Liverpool

Many state schools still struggle to integrate classics into their curriculums below examination level, whether due to staff shortages or focus being pulled by core curriculum requirements. So, there is an increasing number of students in state schools who only begin their discovery of the Ancient World at A Level. Whilst it is brilliant that regions like the Northwest now have some of the largest cohorts of A Level Ancient History and Classical Civilisation in the country thanks to their sixth forms, colleges and schools, it can be difficult for these students who are so new to the subject to navigate the wide variety of courses and their differing requirements at university and choose to pursue classics further. That’s why we have decided to begin a University Access Project which will pilot a programme with our partners at the Universities of Liverpool, Manchester and Oxford.

University Access Project - Pilot Day at the University of Liverpool
University Access Project - Pilot Day at the University of Liverpool

Our pilot project aims to encourage more pupils from state schools and sixth form colleges across the Northwest to apply for Classics and related subjects at university and help ensure future outreach is targeted and fulfils the needs of state school students.

With the support of our partner universities, we will be running subject specific taster days, showcasing the breadth of courses available and enabling prospective students to explore options with staff and current students, as well as trying a variety of different workshops.  We will host online introductory courses in Latin and taster sessions in Greek and Hieroglyphics for students who have not had the opportunity to study ancient languages before applying to university.  Northwest state school students will also be able to apply for a new 3 day residential in Oxford, designed specifically to support their needs. This will all be supported by new resources and online opportunities to enhance student progress from school to university.

There is a stark contrast between numbers of students applying for Classics and related courses in the North and South and access to A Level classics still can be a geographical lottery. This project provides a proactive and joined up approach involving all parties to increase access to the ancient world in higher education.

University Access Project - Pilot Day at the University of Liverpool - Student looking at Ancient Greek pots

The feedback from our pilot day at Liverpool University in June 2023 was very promising with comments from students and staff being overwhelmingly positive:

“It was a great day and student ambassadors were very helpful, activities were fun, and it made me consider applying to Liverpool university.”

“I know the students loved the hands on style of the day and I think moving about between sessions kept the day varied. In the past, I have been to days where students stayed in the one lecture room all day and the speaker changed and this was less engaging. The student ambassadors were incredible and really made the day extra enjoyable by providing extra info and just looking after us in general.”     

University Access Project - Pilot Day at the University of Liverpool - Graph Results of days success with nearly 40% students saying now considering Classics at university
Student feedback from the University Access Day Pilot at the University of Liverpool

Next year, with funding from our Big Give Campaign, we can take our pilot University Access Project to the next level and ensure that students from a state school background have the same opportunities to consider pursuing classical subjects at University.

If you'd like to support our work, please click here to donate to our Big Give Christmas Challenge Campaign during Big Give week (Tuesday 28 November - Tuesday 5 December) and DOUBLE your donation at no extra cost to you.