By Dr Paul Grigsby, Research Fellow in Outreach and Impact at Warwick Classics
On Sunday 7th July 2019, delegates of the FIECCA 2019 Conference attended a panel in the Logan Hall at the Institute of Education on the work of Advocating Classics Education. Organised by Prof Edith Hall and Dr Arlene Holmes-Henderson (chair), this panel addressed the foundation and successes of ACE and its continuing legacy.
In the first talk, Prof Edith Hall spoke about establishing ACE and treated the audience to the premier of the ACE film, an inspiring record of the events and successes from the first two years of the ACE project. The events featured in this film were the subject of our second talk by Dr Arlene Holmes-Henderson, ‘The Achievements of the ACE project to date – policy, pedagogy and press coverage’, in which Arlene outlined the strategies employed by ACE to raise the profile, currency and status of Classical Civilisation and Ancient History as subjects viable for study in all secondary schools, and spoke of the numerous successful events held in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland during this first phase of the ACE project. Next, Dr Paul Grigsby of the University of Warwick spoke on ‘Getting Classics into schools: experiences from the first year of the Warwick Classics Network.’ Paul talked about the development of the WCN – created by Prof Michael Scott in April 2018 following discussions with ACE – and its many successes so far: In 2018, only 14% of State schools in Warwickshire taught any classics; in 2019 the WCN will have increased this to 25% and aim to increase this to 45% by the start of the academic year 2020-2021. Finally, in an inspirational closing session, Gemma Williams of Allerton Grange School in Leeds spoke on ‘Classics in the comprehensive classroom: getting Classics started from scratch’. Gemma spoke about her own experiences of introducing classics in a city where only 3 of 41 non-fee paying schools currently offer the subject. From her initial approach to SLT through to selling classics to her GCSE and A-level students, Gemma’s enthusiasm lit up the hall and reminded everyone of the key role played by enthusiastic teachers in the work of ACE.