Sanskrit is one of the unique aspects of our school. This most ancient and yet still current language stands at the root of many eastern and western languages, including English and most other European languages, both classical and modern. Its study illuminates their grammar and etymology whilst, at the same time, embodying the wisdom of the East. It is the language of the Vedas and the Upanishads, the great epics of the Ramayana and Mahabharata (which includes the Bhagavad Gita) and the texts of Vedanta and Yoga. Sanskrit is also important for the study of Buddhism.
For pupils in Years 7 and 8 who are continuing Sanskrit from the Prep School, the language is taught in a light but thorough way. Pupils, having begun to learn essential paradigms, experience an increasing facility with the language and are able to translate simplified versions of stories from the epic literature. At this stage beautiful verses from Sanskrit literature are sung by the class and occasionally written under the guidance of their teacher. In addition to more formal testing, there are often team quizzes which pupils find to be both entertaining and helpful.
Pupils joining the school in Year 7 are initially given a taste of some of the great philosophical concepts of the Sanskrit tradition, and are introduced to some key Sanskrit words and to the beautiful Sanskrit alphabet. At the end of the Autumn Term, those pupils who have demonstrated a reasonable aptitude for the language are invited to continue with it in the Spring and Summer Terms. In these terms there are two periods a week for those who accept the invitation, during which progress is made with the Sanskrit language and further insights into the rich philosophical tradition are offered.
At the end of the Summer Term in Year 7, a smaller number of pupils are invited to continue with Sanskrit in Years 8 and 9. Girls who accept this invitation are taught Sanskrit together in a small group. These linguistically able pupils need, if they wish to opt for this subject at GCSE level, to be at the same standard by the end of Year 9 as those pupils in their year group who have been studying Sanskrit since the Prep School. To allow enough time in their timetable, pupils who accept this invitation need to either not take up Spanish or discontinue French or Latin. These pupils are set Sanskrit work to do in the school library during the two lessons thereby made available in their timetable. These lessons are supervised.