Let Teachers SHINE winner 2023: Hal Eccles – RevisePilot

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A secondary school teacher has been awarded a grant of £25,000 to develop an educational podcast produced and hosted by students that will help them prepare for their GCSE exams.

Hal Eccles, who works at St Patrick’s RC High School in Salford, hopes the new project will inspire students, and help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to gain better exam results.

The podcast, called RevisePilot, will cover a different subject of the curriculum in each episode, covering difficult concepts and content.

Hal explained, “We might do an English episode covering complex themes from ‘Of Mice and Men’, and then the next episode we might do History discussing the problems faced by Weimar government in 1920s Germany.

“The idea is that there is going to be a season’s worth of content, each subject with its own episode. Within each episode, there will be segments on how to revise, difficult content and tackling misconceptions.

“I will speak to each department and find out what the students typically find difficult and then create an episode focused on the things most useful to them in their exam preparation.

“I also want to include information on well-being during exams and promoting good mental health practices, ensuring that students are looking after themselves during exam time. We’ll interview older students who have already been through the GCSE exam process and get them to share their thoughts and what worked for them/didn’t work for them.

“I think what will make this podcast stand out is that it will be more of a light entertainment format, with students discussing things that are relatable to others. I hope this will make it more accessible for students as typical education podcasts either feature a voice actor reciting a textbook in audio form or only teachers delivering their lessons online.”

Speaking about how he plans to spend the £25,000 he has been awarded, Hal said, “Our primary focus will be investing in podcast technology. This includes setting up a studio within the school premises and providing myself and another teacher with comprehensive training on operating and producing quality podcasts. We will then be delivering workshops to the students to help them become skilled podcast creators.

“Our team will involve multiple teams of children who will be assigned roles, ranging from podcast hosting to marketing. By offering them such immersive experiences, we are hoping to inspire them to seek media-related careers when they leave school.

“Additionally, we have allocated a portion of funding towards subscribing to podcast hosting platforms such as Apple and Spotify. By doing this, we aim to host our podcasts online and make them accessible to a larger audience. Our intention is to ensure a professional standard, allowing us to reach the widest possible audience.”

Hal’s vision for this project extends beyond the initial season. He is already contemplating ways to broaden the scope of the content, introducing more subjects and themes as the project evolves. He envisions the possibility of expanding the programme to include A-Level topics or catering to Year 6 students as they prepare to enter high school.

He added, “I would love to do collaborations with other schools in the region, thereby involving students from diverse backgrounds. I am also keen on partnering with BBC Media City, given its proximity to our school, which could provide us with valuable insights and exposure.

“In addition, I have contacted local universities, such as the University of Salford, to explore the possibility of their contribution to our project through, for instance, organising field trips.

“I would like to create a sustainable project that will continue to thrive over the years. To achieve this, I plan to design a comprehensive training programme that will equip the next batch of presenters with the skills and knowledge required to produce high-quality podcasts.

“The aim is to establish a rolling programme, ensuring that each year, a new group of trained presenters will take over the reins, thereby ensuring the sustainability and longevity of the programme.”

When asked about his reaction to receiving £25,000, Hal said, “I felt pleasantly surprised and thrilled at the support and opportunity to explore the project’s viability. It is something which I firmly believe in. I have had lots of positive feedback from people when I’ve explained my idea. I’m hoping it will be a great success.

“There is lots of excitement amongst the students whom I’ve told about the project, with many eager to contribute in various ways such as creating jingles, intros, and taking responsibility for different segments of the podcast.

“I envision the project to be all-encompassing, involving every department of the school and having the potential to reach beyond local schools, extending to the wider community.”

SHINE CEO, Dr Helen Rafferty, said: “At SHINE we believe in the creativity of passionate teachers and Hal is a great example of this in action. We are excited about the potential of this project and look forward to hearing more from the students at St Patrick’s RC High School through the podcast when it goes live.”