Dr Arlene Holmes-Henderson Leads the Way in Humanities Policy Engagement

Photo of Arlene outside number 10 Downing Street

TORCH Knowledge Exchange Fellow Dr Arlene Holmes-Henderson is a key contributor to the new report produced as part of the Oracy All Party Parliamentary Group’s ‘Speak for Change’ Inquiry.

This important policy work provides a clear picture of the national provision of education in speaking and listening, as well as identifying where the gaps are widest and the long-term consequences for children and young people without sufficient opportunities to develop these skills at school.

In addition to her work on this project, Dr Arlene Holmes-Henderson has engaged with education policy makers through her TORCH Knowledge Exchange Fellowship, Language Education Research and the Department for Education. In partnership with the Department of Education, Dr Holmes-Henderson is sharing research with the potential to inform policy development on the teaching of ancient and modern foreign languages in schools in England, and using the feedback gained to inform her ongoing research agenda.

Dr Holmes-Henderson is also the only OPEN (Oxford Policy Engagement Network) Leader based in the Humanities Division. This role is key to improving information exchange between policy makers and academics, and allows Dr Holmes-Henderson to use her experience to build capacity among fellow researchers within the University.

For example, her work on the Speak for Change report involved colleagues from across the university, as well as significant contributions from her own research on Classical rhetoric and the cultivation of critical skills. The Trinity College Access Project contributed evidence on how oracy skills can affect admissions and on-course success at leading universities. Dr Holmes-Henderson is also keen to involve current students in policy engagement so asked Jonah Stewart, a DPhil student in the Department of Education, to contribute to the final collaborative research outputs.

Dr Holmes-Henderson comments that:

‘Policy engagement is an excellent way for Humanities scholars to demonstrate the relevance of their research to external stakeholders. As a Classicist, I have found that policymakers are particularly interested in my research findings because they apply equally to languages and humanities curricular areas. Policy engagement now accounts for a significant portion of my professional activities and I find the knowledge exchange both stimulating and fulfilling.’

You can read more about Dr Holmes-Henderson’s top tips for policy engagement in her UPEN blog: Engaging with policymakers as a researcher in the Arts and Humanities: a guide to how, what and why.

She is on Twitter at @drarlenehh