The Faculty of Classics at the University of Oxford has received a donation of £1,342,288 from the Stonehouse Educational Foundation to endow a DPhil in Classics and to support Classics outreach activities in state schools.

The Oxford–Stonehouse Graduate Scholarship will commence in the academic year 2022–23 and will be awarded to a scholar who has shown exceptional academic merit. The gift has been matched by the University, demonstrating Oxford’s commitment to providing opportunities for talented scholars regardless of their background.

Elena Vacca teaching Latin remotely to state school pupils during the coronavirus pandemic

The donation will also support outreach activities, building on previous funding from the Stonehouse Educational Foundation and is aimed at targeting schools and pupils under-represented within the student body of the Faculty of Classics at the University. Since 2014, the foundation has helped to fund the OxLAT scheme at the University, providing tuition in Latin for pupils from state schools in Oxfordshire and the surrounding area wishing to pursue a GCSE in Latin, but who attend schools where this is not taught. Of the latest cohort of pupils, 21 completed their GCSE in Latin in 2021, with over 95% achieving grades 7–9 (equivalent to the former A and A* grades).

The OxLAT scheme has had a successful track record of preparing pupils for Latin GCSE and many have gone on to study Classics at university level.

Anna, a third-year Classicist at Oxford, said: ‘During my time at state school, I participated in the OXLAT GCSE Latin scheme which is organised by the Oxford Faculty of Classics, and this is what developed my initial interest in the Latin language into a desire to study for a degree in Classics.’

The faculty now has a guaranteed capacity to continue and to develop the OxLAT scheme for at least the next ten years, and to explore the exciting synergies between this and other outreach operations.

Richard Stonehouse, a trustee of the Stonehouse Educational Foundation, said: ‘The Stonehouse Educational Foundation was set up in memory of Robert Stonehouse, who read Classics at Oxford from 1954 to 1959, and maintained a lifelong interest in the Classics. One aim was to encourage the study of Classics and the ancient world by pupils and students, who might otherwise not have had the opportunity. We have been delighted by the excellent results achieved to date, in spite of the Covid pandemic; also by the evident enjoyment of the students, something that has not always been associated with learning Latin! We are excited that future generations will be introduced to the Classics and will develop their interests because of the foundation's support.'

Dr Neil McLynn, Chair of the Classics Faculty Board at the University of Oxford, said: ‘This most generous and timely gift provides the faculty with support in two areas where support is needed with particular urgency. It will help us to bring talented young people into contact with the subject, and will also provide opportunities for those whose appetites have been whetted by their undergraduate studies to undertake a research degree.'