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Professor Arlene Holmes-Henderson

Professor of Classics Education and Public Policy MBE


Professor of Classics Education and Public Policy MBE in the Department of Classics and Ancient History


Arlene Holmes-Henderson is Professor of Classics Education and Public Policy at Durham University where she holds a British Academy Innovation Fellowship (2022-2024). After studying Classics at Oxford, Harvard and Cambridge, Arlene qualified as a schoolteacher and taught in high schools for more than a decade before returning to academia. Arlene has conducted international comparative research in the USA as a Fulbright Scholar, in Australia as a Churchill Fellow and in New Zealand as an Erskine Fellow.

She is Vice-Chair of the Universities Policy Engagement Network with national responsibility for Arts and Humanities and is an expert advisor to international governments, parliaments and assessment agencies. She leads several research projects at Durham including an interdisciplinary project with colleagues in Education, English and Psychology, 'Shy Bairns Get Nowt', which investigates the relationship between oracy, persuasion and employability. You can read more about this here.

Arlene works alongside Professor Edith Hall and Dr Peter Swallow on the Leverhulme Trust-funded project Aristotle Beyond the Academy in Britain and Ireland since the Restoration. Her focus is on the reception of Aristotle's rhetoric by members of the clergy, legal educators and auto-didacts.

In 2024, she is working with Dr Tom Wright (University of Sussex) on the AHRC-funded project Challenging Oracy and Citizenship Myths. Her work here focuses on co-designing with teachers, new resources on oracy for use in Scottish schools.

Arlene was awarded an MBE for Services for Education by King Charles III in the Birthday Honours 2023.

For more information, see her website and follow her on twitter @profarlenehh.




Holmes-Henderson, A., Martin, B. and A. Penn (in press) ‘Classics in Ireland: an update from schools’ in Zucchetti, E., Bellomo, M., Saldutti, V., & Cimino, A. M. (Eds.) (2024). Class and Classics: Subalterns and the Production of Classical Culture, De Gruyter.

Holmes-Henderson, A. Kelly, K., Moorghen, A. and R. Simon-Caffyn (in press) ‘What is the relationship between oracy, confidence and outcomes for teachers and students?’, in Wright, T. (ed.). The Use of Oracy, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Holmes-Henderson, A. and Lambert, S. (in press) ‘Oracy Overseas’ in in Wright, T. (ed.). The Use of Oracy, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Holmes-Henderson, A. (in press) ‘Talk is cheap? A survey of oracy training providers in England’ in Zmavc, J. Rhetorical Education worldwide, Ljubljana University Press.

Holmes-Henderson, A. (2023a) Expanding Classics: practitioner perspectives from museums and schools, Routledge, London.

Holmes-Henderson, A. (2023b) How the arts and humanities contribute to policy making – Policy Profession (

Holmes-Henderson (2023c) ‘Award-Winning Author Discusses the Importance of Studying Classics’, Routledge Blog, 18th July 2023

Holmes-Henderson, A. (2023d) ‘The pioneering academic who is making classics cool in schools’, AHRC blog, 1st August 2023

Holmes-Henderson, A. (2023e) ‘Policy Engagement beyond borders: Strengthening EU-UK collaboration’, UPEN blog, 15th December 2023

Holmes-Henderson, A. (2023f) ‘Widening the evidence base for policy: experiences and opportunities’, UPEN blog, 28th November 2023

Holmes-Henderson, A. (2023g) ‘Science for Policy in Europe: reporting from Brussels’, UPEN blog, 28th November 2023

Holmes-Henderson, A. and Kelly, K. (2023) ‘Learn the root. Conquer the word. Investigating the efficacy of Vocabulous in teaching word roots’, Christ Church Research Centre

Holmes-Henderson, A. and Wright, T. (2023a) ‘What’s the evidence for a focus on Oracy?’, Times Educational Supplement (TES), 12th July 2023.

Holmes-Henderson, A. and Wright, T. (2023b) ‘Making the voice matter in English Studies Teaching’, English: Journal of the English Association,

Webster, L. and Holmes-Henderson, A. (2023) EMC Approaches to Rhetoric: A Practical Guide for 11-14 year-olds, English and Media Centre.

Holmes-Henderson, A. (2022b) ‘Widening access to ancient cultures in museums and schools through partnership working’, National Centre for Academic and Culture Exchange Blog, 7th November 2022.

Holmes-Henderson, A. (2022a) ‘Classics and educational policy – an update’ in C. Ryan (ed). Perspectives on Classics, CUCD Bulletin, 51, 20-23.

Holmes-Henderson, A. and Kelly, K. (2022) Ancient Languages in Primary Schools in England: a Literature Review. Department for Education. His Majesty’s Government.

Taylor, A., Holmes-Henderson, A. and S. Jones (2022) ‘Classics education in Northern Irish primary schools: curriculum policy and classroom practice’, Journal of Classics Teaching, 1-7.

Holmes-Henderson, A., Zmavc, J. and Kaldahl, A-G. (2022) ‘Oracy, rhetoric and citizenship: curricular innovations from Scotland, Slovenia and Norway’, Literacy, 56, 3, 253-263.

Holmes-Henderson, A. (2022) ‘Jubilation, trepidation, exasperation: explaining academics’ reactions to contact from policy makers’, Policy Profession blog. (read by up to 30,000 civil servants)

Holmes-Henderson, A. and H. Jack (2022) ‘Academic-Policy collaboration with no fee: the benefits of knowledge exchange partnerships’, Policy Profession blog. (read by up to 30,000 civil servants)

Goff, B., Holmes-Henderson, A., Messenger, J. and A. Petsalis-Diomidis, (2021) ‘Inclusive Classics Initiative. Report on “Towards a More Inclusive Classics II” International Workshop organised by Professor Barbara Goff and Dr Alexia Petsalis-Diomidis, Council of University Classics Departments Bulletin, 50, 1-6.

Holmes-Henderson, A. and Watts, B. (2021) ‘What grades are needed to study Classical subjects at UK universities?’, Journal of Classics Teaching, 22, 43, 1-7.

Swallow, P. and Holmes-Henderson, A. (2021) ‘Working towards fairer access to Classical subjects in schools: the Advocating Classics Education (ACE) project’, Council of University Classics Departments Equality Diversity and Inclusion Blog, 24th May 2021.

Holmes-Henderson, A. and Kelly, K. (2021b) ‘Classical connections: enriching English teaching with help from the Greeks and Romans’, Litdrive blog, 2nd May 2021.

Holmes-Henderson, A. and Kelly, K. (2021a) ‘Ancient and modern languages in primary schools’, Oxford Humanities blog, 21st April 2021. and

Hunt, S. and Holmes-Henderson, A. (2021) ‘A level Classics poverty. Classical subjects in schools in England: access, attainment and progression’, CUCD Bulletin, 50, 1-26.

Holmes-Henderson, A. (2021d) ‘Classical subjects in English schools: Confronting inequalities of access’, British Educational Research Association blog, 14 July 2021.

Holmes-Henderson, A. (2021c) ‘Primary Greek’, ARGO, 13, 40-42.

Holmes-Henderson, A. (2021b) ‘Developing multiliteracies through Classical mythology in British classrooms’, in L. Maurice (ed.) Our Mythical Education: The Reception of the Classical World in Formal Education 1900-2020, University of Warsaw Press, 139-154.

Holmes-Henderson, A. (2021a) Engaging with policymakers as a researcher in the Arts and Humanities: a guide to how, what and why, Universities Policy Engagement Network Blog.

Holmes-Henderson, A. and M. Musié (2020d) ‘Staging the Archive: Classics in Communities’, The Archive for the Performance of Greek and Roman Drama podcast, Oxford.

Holmes-Henderson, A. (2020c) ‘Surviving the infodemic – teaching students to read between the lines’, Winston Churchill Memorial Trust blog, 13th October 2020.

Holmes-Henderson, A. (2020b) ‘Teaching critical literacy in schools: a research-informed approach’ in C. Coyle (ed.) Identifying Fake News: critical literacy and the school library, School Library Association, Swindon.

Holmes-Henderson, A. (2020a) ‘What’s it like training in England but teaching in Scotland?’, Quinquennium, 8 January 2020.

Holmes-Henderson, A. (2019b) ‘Book review: The Six Secrets of Intelligence’, Times Educational Supplement, 29th September 2019.

White, B. and Holmes-Henderson, A. (2019a) ‘Latin Lovers’, Blueprint, Trinity Term 2019, 7.

Holmes-Henderson, A., Hunt, S. and Musié, M. (eds.) (2018) Forward with Classics. Classical languages in schools and communities, Bloomsbury academic, London.

Holmes-Henderson, A. (2018c) ‘Oxford-Africa Classics Research Collaboration’, Oxford University Faculty of Classics Blog 19th July 2018.

Holmes-Henderson, A. and Tempest, K. (2018) ‘Classics and twenty-first-century skills’ in A. Holmes-Henderson, S. Hunt and M. Musié (eds.) Forward with Classics. Classical languages in schools and communities, Bloomsbury academic, London.

Holmes-Henderson, A. (2018b) ‘A winning formula: Classical rhetoric for oracy education’, Teaching Citizenship, 42.

Holmes-Henderson, A. (2018a) ‘Artistic licence: how learning Latin could change your life’, University of Oxford Arts Blog 31st January 2018. and The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities Blog 16th February 2018.

Holmes-Henderson, A. (2017d) ‘Classics in communities resources for “non-specialist” teachers of Latin and/or Ancient Greek’, Classical Association Blog, 21st November 2017.

Holmes-Henderson, A. (2017c) ‘Classical subjects in schools: a comparative study of New Zealand and the United Kingdom‘ in D. Burton, S. Perris and J. Tatum (eds.), Athens to Aotearoa: Greece and Rome in New Zealand Literature and Society, Victoria University Wellington Press, 326-346.

Holmes-Henderson, A. (2017b)Advocating Classics Education’, Omnibus, 72, 4.

Hall, E. and Holmes-Henderson, A. (2017a) Advocating Classics Education: a new national project’, Journal of Classics Teaching, Vol. 18, 36, 25-28.

Holmes-Henderson, A. (2016d) ‘Bringing Cambridge IGCSE Latin to life in Rome’, Cambridge Outlook, 23, 24.

Holmes-Henderson, A. (2016c)Growing Greek in Schools: from gorillas to talking vases’, ARGO, 4, 16-17.

Holmes-Henderson, A. (2016b) ‘Teaching Latin and Greek in primary classrooms: the Classics in Communities Project’, Journal of Classics Teaching, Vol. 17, 33, 50-53.

Holmes-Henderson, A. (2016a) Responsible citizenship and critical skills in Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence: the contribution of Classical rhetoric to democratic deliberation’, in P.Carr, P.Thomas, B. Porfilio and J. Gorlewski (eds.), Democracy and decency: what does education have to do with it?‘, Information Age Publishers, 213-228.

Holmes-Henderson, A. and Mitropoulos, A. (2016) ‘A celebration of Greek language and culture education in the UK’, Journal of Classics Teaching, Vol. 17, 34, 55-57.

Holmes-Henderson , A. (2015) ‘The Classics in Communities project’, Oxford University Faculty of Classics newsletter, 6.

Holmes-Henderson, A. (2014b) Reading between the lines: improving the UK’s critical literacy education, Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, which informed the National Literacy Trust/APPG Literacy’s Parliamentary Commission Report on Critical Media Literacy and Fake News (2018)

Holmes-Henderson, A. (2014a) ‘Classical pedagogy: a postcard from Hawaii’, Cloelia, 4, 54.

Holmes-Henderson, A. (2012) ‘Classics Teachers on Tour’, Journal of Classics Teaching, Vol. 26, 32-33.

Holmes-Henderson, A. (2009a) ‘Learning to love Latin the modern way’, Private Schools Revealed , 19th June 2009, 8-14.

Holmes-Henderson, A. (2009b) ‘Passport to a world of opportunity – now you’re talking’, The Scotsman newspaper, 29th September 2009.

Holmes-Henderson, A. (2009c) ‘Amamus Latin’, Secondary Headship, 2nd November 2009, 11-17.

Holmes-Henderson, A. (2008) ‘Gifted Girls and Groovy Greek’, Journal of Classics Teaching, Vol. 14, 4-6.

Holmes-Henderson, A. (2007) ‘Skill to do comes of doing: Surviving the Cambridge Classics PGCE 2005-2006’, Journal of Classics Teaching, Vol. 10, 6-8.

In Preparation

Holmes-Henderson, A., Hall, E. (under contract) Classical Civilisation and Ancient History in British secondary education, Liverpool University Press, Liverpool.

Holmes-Henderson, A. and Howard, K. (under contract), Reviving rhetoric across the curriculum, Routledge, London.

Holmes-Henderson, A. and Dixon, J. (under contract) Secondary Classics in Action, Hodder Education, London.

Nitu, S. and Holmes-Henderson, A. (under contract) Humanities Forward: Opportunity, Innovation, Policy in the 21st Century, Liverpool University Press, Liverpool.

Hall, E., Holmes-Henderson, A. and Swallow, P. (under contract) Aristotle Beyond the Academy in Britain and Ireland 1660-1922, Routledge, London. 

Research interests

  • Academic-Museum education partnerships
  • Access to classical studies in schools and communities
  • Classics Education
  • Classics and employability
  • Education Policy (Arts and Humanities)
  • Rhetoric, oracy and critical skills

Esteem Indicators

  • 2024: Member of the Academia Europaea: Elected to membership of the European Academy in recognition of outstanding contributions to Classics research.
  • 2023: Chair of the Latin Expert Panel at the Department for Education:
  • 2023: MBE for Services to Education:
  • 2022: Vice Chair Universities Policy Engagement Network:
  • 2022: Arts and Humanities Research Council: Member of Peer Review College
  • 2022: British Council Language Trends Advisory Group: Representative for Ancient Languages
  • 2022: University Council for Languages (Executive Committee Member): Member of Executive Committee (Classical Studies)
  • 2021: Classics Development Group: Chair of this national strategic group which brings together 15 professional organisations and learned societies to discuss discipline-wide issues.
  • 2021: Arts and Humanities Research Council: Member of Public Policy Advisory Board
  • 2021: British Academy Languages Advisory Group: Representative for Languages
  • 2020: Trustee of The Classical Association: Outreach Office, Council Member and Vice Chair of The Classical Association Teaching Board
  • 2020: British Academy National Strategic Committee for Languages: Representative for Classics
  • 2018: Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies: Member of the Roman Studies Committee
  • 2016: British Curriculum Forum: Member of Steering Group, a sub-committee of the British Educational Research Association
  • 2015: US-UK Fulbright Commission: Elected Member of Fulbright Alumni Council