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Royal honour for pioneering Classicist

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Congratulations to Dr Arlene Holmes-Henderson, our Associate Professor of Classics and Ancient History, who has received an MBE from King Charles III for Services to Education in the 2023 King’s Birthday Honours.

The honour recognises Arlene’s work to make Classics more widely available in schools and helping young people develop their communication skills.

Arlene is passionate that children are equipped at an early age with the oracy skills necessary to help them reach their full potential. She holds a British Academy Innovation Fellowship (2022-2024) entitled ‘Levelling-up through talk’, which investigates how speech, communication and active listening contribute to young people’s social mobility and employability.

Children in the classroom
Children in the classroom

She is currently leading a major new multi-disciplinary project ‘Shy bairns get nowt’ to help teachers improve the teaching of oracy skills in North East England schools.

Arlene said it was an honour to receive an MBE for her work, adding:

I collaborate with inspiring colleagues in academia, schools, charities, and museums. This award is a reflection of our collective achievements. I enjoy using my experience, knowledge, and skills to make a positive difference.

From Glasgow to Durham, via Hawaii

Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Arlene graduated with a BA (Hons) in Classics from St Hilda’s College, the University of Oxford, then received a scholarship to Harvard University for graduate study.

She holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Education from Trinity College, the University of Cambridge, an MA from the University of Oxford and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Glasgow.

Arlene was a Fulbright Visiting Professor at the University of Hawaii, a Churchill Fellow in Australia and an Erskine Fellow in New Zealand.

She shares her expertise with government and parliament in the UK and worldwide. She is an expert advisor to the All-Party Parliamentary group for Political Literacy and to the Oracy All-Party Parliamentary group.

Arlene joined our world-leading Department of Classics and Ancient History in October 2022.

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