Friday, 1 November 2019

A summer full of Classical Civilisation


by Dr Arlene Holmes-Henderson and Professor Edith Hall


From 22nd to 26th July 2019, seventeen heroic teachers participated in a summer school at KCL which included lectures and curriculum-linked activities on *every* component of the OCR GCSE, AS and A Level Classical Civilisation qualifications. Led by Professor Edith Hall and Dr Arlene Holmes-Henderson, the week-long professional development course attracted teachers of English, Modern Languages, Drama, History and Citizenship from England and Wales. There was a range of prior experience: one participant was about to begin her teacher training degree, others were qualified teachers of non-Classical subjects and some were Classics teachers who felt they would benefit from some specialist input. 

Our KCL colleagues were exemplary. Everyone had read the OCR teaching materials carefully and delivered perfectly bespoke talks and activities. Ellen Adams showed for Homeric World the importance of thinking about the size and setting of early Greek towns; Nicola Devlin managed to pack the entire history of Greek vase-painting into 90 lucid minutes for Greek Art; Emily Pillinger enthralled on Sappho and Catullus for Women in the Ancient World and made the Aeneid’s message on migrants compelling for World of the Hero.

John Pearce showed how the Colosseum can reveal almost everything we need to know about Roman City Life; Lindsay Allen got everybody thinking like an Achaemenid Persian in Invention of the Barbarian; for Imperial Image Dominic Rathbone got us looking at Augustus in new ways; Pavlos Avlamis won the prize for Most Popular Activity when he got everyone to draw Achilles’ shield from Iliad XVIII for World of the Hero; Mike Trapp made Plato comprehensible for Love and Relationships; Hugh Bowden sorted out myth and religion for both GCSE and A Level; Edith enthused on Greek Theatre and the Odyssey, and did a double-act with Roman historian James Corke-Webster on War and Warfare. Arlene led sessions on curriculum content and resources and Roman rhetoric for Politics of the Late Republic.

There will be a legacy in the form of films of the presentations for the KCL website made by Big Face Art, with Tom Russell in charge, and in due course these and all the powerpoints and handouts will be made available on the ACE website too.

But the real efforts were made by the extraordinarily committed teachers who attended, either the whole course or parts of it: Charlotte Cannon, Will Dearnaley, Edda-Jane Doherty, Jenny Draper, Laurence Goodwin, Chandler Hamer, Rob Hancock-Jones, Pantelis Iakovou, Susan Jenkins, Jo Johnson, Lidia Kuhivchak, Jo Lashley, Lottie Mortimer, Judith Parker, Alex Rooke, Saara Salem and Helen Turner. It was a privilege to spend the week with them, and we are going to hear far, far more from them in the future!



Feedback from the teachers has been resoundingly positive:

‘Both my knowledge and my confidence have been transformed this week. Filling gaps has been invaluable and will definitely benefit my students. The comprehensive approach across all units at GCSE and A Level has allowed for flow and connections which will enrich subject knowledge as a whole. The most important thing which I’ll take away from this week is the confidence to analyse sources and structure topics. The course will change my professional practice because it will help me to make my delivery of the course better quality and more relevant to my students.’

‘My confidence has increased hugely both in terms of subject content and effective delivery of it. Since the start of the week, I have much greater awareness of the expectations of exam boards as well as resources. This course has been the key factor in my school permitting the introduction of Classics in my school. I would absolutely attend another course.’

‘This has been tremendous CPD. I feel really confident after a brilliant week.’

The summer school was made possible through generous donations from the King’s Widening Participation Fund, the King’s College London Classics Department, The Roman Society and the Hellenic Society.

The support of the Classical Association is vital in facilitating the ongoing work of the ACE project. We are indebted to the CA for its contribution and look forward to further fruitful collaboration.

The Advocating Classics Education project was awarded a major grant by the CA in 2019.  Based at King's College London and led by Professor Edith Hall and Dr Arlene Holmes-Henderson, the project aims to extend the availability of Classical Civilisation and Ancient History qualifications in UK state schools.