Dr Arlene Holmes-Henderson’s policy engagement featured in University film

Senior Research Fellow in Classics Education, Dr Arlene Holmes-Henderson, features in a new University film which showcases the importance of collaboration between academics and policy makers. Arlene researches the teaching and learning of ancient languages in schools and the intersection of Classical rhetoric, oracy and citizenship education. The leader
of several research and public policy partnership projects, she talks in the film about her
work with the All Party Parliamentary Group for Oracy and the Department for Education. Arlene is helping to build an evidence-base
which supports policy development for Humanities and languages education in the UK, with both parliamentary and governmental colleagues.

You can find out more about Arlene’s role as the Policy Leader for the Humanities Division, and about policy engagement
in Oxford on the Oxford Policy Engagement Network’s website.

Keep up to date via Twitter at @drarlenehh and @oxpolicyengaged

New publication about plants in the Greek Underworld

We’re delighted to announce a brand new story and information book: Telling Tales in Nature: Underworld Tales.

Myths rooted in plants are very common, and Greek mythology has its fair share. Despite the Greek Underworld being a place for the dead, there are a number of plants that are associated with it in the ancient imagination.

This little book explores four particular plants that are found in the Greek Underworld: pomegranate, mint, asphodel, and white poplar. In each chapter, there is some information about the plant itself, followed by a story in which the plant features. In each case, the story is retold from the perspective of the spirit of the plant.

Greek and Roman authors often wrote of nymphs, a form of nature spirit connected to a particular type of plant, or in some cases, a single plant. The characters are intended to be the voices of such nymphs. The chapter finishes with a few brief notes about sources for the stories. It is written by Dr Lorna Robinson, and illustrated throughout by Lydia Hall.

Lorna is the founding director of the Iris Project, a charity which runs a range of classics education initiatives in state schools and communities. She is also the founding director of the Rumble Museum at Cheney School, the first fully accredited museum as part of a school.

Lydia is an illustrator and artist based in Oxford. Her socially engaged practice involves working with school groups and local charities, using visual art as a tool of communication and understanding.

This little book will form part of a wider illustrated series exploring plants in Greek myths through new re-tellings and information, aimed at both children and adults. “Telling Tales in Nature: Underworld Tales” can be purchased as an e-book and paperback here.

Research and Public Policy Partnership

Dr Arlene Holmes-Henderson, Research Fellow in Classics Education and Principal Investigator of the Classics in Communities project, will work directly with the Department for Education as part of a University of Oxford/Policy Profession Research and Public Policy Partnership. She has been awarded funding (£4925) by the Higher Education Innovation Fund to share her research evidence, academic knowledge and professional expertise with policymakers regarding the learning and teaching of ancient languages in primary and secondary schools. This collaboration will inform the implementation of the government’s EBacc languages policy and will explore ways to mitigate the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on language teaching.

policy profession

Last Supper in Pompeii

The exhibition runs until 12th January 2020. Full details here:

Dr Mai Musié wins the Classical Association Prize 2019


In the awards ceremony on 7th July, Classics in Communities co-founder Dr Mai Musié was awarded the Classical Association prize 2019. This was given in recognition of her outstanding efforts to raise the profile of Classics in the public eye. Her efforts to do so include not only the Classics in Communities project, but also her work on the Ge’ez Manuscripts from Ethiopia and Eritrea. In her acceptance speech, Mai thanked all those people who have supported her success including colleagues in Oxford Classics, friends, family and her current colleagues in the Knowledge Exchange Team.

Mai, we are so proud of you!

To see a list of former Classical Association prize-winners, click here.


On Saturday 30th March, friends and supporters of the Classics in Communities project gathered at the Faculty of Classics in Oxford to celebrate the publication of Forward with Classics. The editors, Dr Arlene Holmes-Henderson, Steven Hunt and Dr Mai Musié were delighted that so many contributors to the book were able to join them for an afternoon of Classics and cake.

Dr Llewelyn Morgan (Brasenose College, University of Oxford) was the first keynote speaker. He welcomed everyone to the Faculty of Classics and provided some background to the project and its foundation within the Faculty of Classics in Oxford. Llewelyn highlighted the chapters by Emma Searle and Lorna Robinson which showcase two of the efforts being undertaken by the University of Oxford and its partners to widen access to the study of Classics in its local communities: the OXLAT scheme and the East Oxford Classics Centre. He also introduced the book's editors.

Arlene, Mai and Steve then provided a strategic overview of the achievements of the Classics in Communities project so far. Three contributors brought us up to date on developments since they wrote their chapters: John Bulwer (Euroclassica), Olivia Sanchez (St Paul’s Way Trust School) and Dr Aisha Khan-Evans (King’s College London).

The second keynote speaker (and contributor to the book) was Professor Edith Hall (King’s College London) who praised the editors for capturing innovative practice in Classics education around the globe, spanning the northern and southern hemispheres. Edith said that she was delighted to see chapters co-written by academics and teachers: an indication of the valuable lessons we can all learn when we discuss pedagogical approaches across traditional transitional phases.

Arlene outlined the next steps for the project and explained the need to secure additional funding to realise these ambitions.

The day ended with a drinks reception, cake cutting and book signing. Commissioning editor from Bloomsbury Academic Alice Wright was particularly delighted because every copy of the book was sold!

Particular thanks are due to Dr Audrey Cahill, Qasim Alli and Paul Sawyer in the Faculty of Classics at Oxford, without whom the event would not have been possible.

forward with classics


2-2.30pm Registration and refreshments

2.30-2.45pm Welcome: Dr Llewelyn Morgan

2.45-3.15pm An overview of the achievements of the Classics in Communities project - editors

3.15-3.30pm One primary teacher’s foray into Classical languages

3.30-4pm An update from contributors

4.00-4.20pm Closing remarks: Prof. Edith Hall

An update on Classics and Class project, and where next for Classics in Communities?

4.30-5.30pm Drinks reception and book signing

Forward With Classics Lunchtime Seminar

A Book at Lunchtime seminar with Dr Arlene Holmes-Henderson, Steven Hunt, Dr Mai Musié, Dr Peter Jones (Co-founder, Classics for All), Dr Alex Pryce (Head of Student Recruitment, Oxford), Chaired by Professor Fiona Macintosh (St Hilda's Oxford).