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Arlene Holmes-Henderson MBE pictured outside the Department of Classics and Ancient History

Congratulations to Dr Arlene Holmes-Henderson, our Associate Professor of Classics and Ancient History, who has been made an MBE by King Charles III for Services to Education.

The honour, awarded in the King’s 2023 Birthday Honours, recognises Dr Holmes-Henderson’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 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, a MA from the University of Oxford and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Glasgow.

She 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. 

Find out more; 

One of the largest in the UK, the Classics and Ancient History Department ranks 8th in the 2023 QS World University Rankings by subject (3rd in the UK) and was the highest-ranked department in the University for employer reputation, with a score of 82.5. Graduates have gone on to careers in computing, civil service, gold dealing, insurance, journalism, law, accountancy, public relations and the theatre.  

We’re confident that our work brings the relevance and importance of Classics to a wider audience and our engagement with partners outside academia demonstrates the continued impact of Classics on people’s lives today.