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A young girl raises her hand to get a teacher's attention in a primary school classroom

Our researchers are involved in an innovative project across four different subject areas to help North East pupils improve their communication skills.

The Durham-led ‘Shy bairns get nowt’ project will see Classics, Education, English and Psychology professors combine their expertise to support the teaching of oracy in primary and secondary schools in North East England.   

Communications and listening skills 

Oracy refers to verbal communication and listening skills and studies have shown that they have been negatively impacted by remote learning due to the Covid pandemic. 

Our researchers will work with teachers to develop classroom resources for teaching oracy as well as visiting schools to work with pupils to help them use their voices with confidence. 

Together, our academics will create a forum to share knowledge and experience to support teachers in the teaching of oracy in the North East region's primary and secondary schools. 

They will also work with colleagues in Norway, Spain, Slovenia, Poland and the USA to share their expertise via an international conference.   

The 12-month project is being funded by an Arts and Humanities Faculty Research Accelerator Award.    

A partnership for oracy 

The design and delivery of teacher training resources will be done via a partnership with the Voice 21 North East Oracy Hub.   

Dr Holmes-Henderson, our Associate Professor of Classics and Ancient History, is leading the project. 

She already holds a British Academy Innovation Fellowship which examines the relationship between oracy, social mobility and employability.   

Our other academics involved in the project are: Education Professor David Waugh; English Studies Professor Simon James and Assistant Professor of Psychology Thomas Vaughan-Johnston, who has recently moved from Durham to the School of Psychology at Cardiff University. 

 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.