What do Michael Ball, Rick Astley, comedian Josh Widdicombe and KCC Cabinet Member Shellina Prendergast have in common?
Answer: they have all taken part in podcasts produced by pupils at East Peckham Primary School – an initiative that has gained national acclaim.
The school near Tonbridge has scooped Best Primary School Radio Station of the Year in the Young Audio Awards 2022, after impressing the judges with its regular podcast, set up just after the first lockdown in 2020.
Involving all the children in the school and produced and edited by the Year 6 students, the podcast initially focussed on life in school and topics the children had been learning, but then began to include celebrity interviews.
The podcasts were the brainchild of teaching assistant Clare Duffield, making use of her experience as a professional radio producer.
She said: “The children jumped at the chance to start the podcasts. They had had very little social interaction due to the pandemic and this was a good way to get them communicating again.
“The whole school is involved, with our Year 6 class responsible for the editing.
“The celebrities we contacted have all been so helpful, patient and friendly and we were delighted that Mrs Prendergast could come in person to be interviewed.”
Headteacher Lorraine Wickens, who is retiring at the end of this term after 13 years at the school, said: “We are so delighted to have won this award. The podcast is a fantastic way for the children to share what they are doing in school with their families and the wider community and they are learning exciting new skills while having fun.
“We are extremely proud of them. We’ve spent almost two years in class bubbles and the podcast has been invaluable in uniting the school and allowing the children to feel connected to each other.”
Mrs Prendergast was invited as the latest podcast guest to talk about her work as KCC’s Cabinet Member for Education and Skills.
She said: “In my role it is not unusual for me to be grilled by reporters, and the pupils at East Peckham did a great job with their questions for me.
“It is a fantastic school with a very dedicated staff and excellent facilities. I was really impressed with the initiative they have shown in producing their podcasts and congratulate them on their national award.”
The Young Audio Awards are for 8 – 18 years and schools who love creating audio. The aim is to celebrate great podcasts and radio shows, spot new talent and provide an opportunity for young people to access the industry.
The children are now looking forward to their prize – the chance to present a show on the national digital radio station Fun Kids.
The podcasts can be found here: https://www.east-peckham.kent.sch.uk/school-radio
And here is a clip of the official award announcement: https://twitter.com/youngaudioaward/status/1506685707900706816?s=10