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Leading article: Vital language

It is the thinking of the 1950s, Labour's Andy Burnham said yesterday in a philippic against pupils being able to choose Latin as part of the new English baccalaureate. He prefers engineering, business studies and ICT to create "a route into work" for Britain's young people. But it is a modern myth that Latin is outdated.

Latin is the maths of the humanities – a training in analytical thought for which no previous knowledge is required. It fires the imagination of the young with its goddesses, gladiators and mythological flying horses. It offers a great foundation for later language learning. Its students do better in reading, comprehension, vocabulary and conceptual thinking. Ipsa scientia potestas est.