A few weeks ago I was at Soundart Radio in Dartington near Totnes, to help out with the Every Child Has a Voice project celebration. The event took place at the Soundart studios, and the Space Centre at Dartington Hall.
The event was call called Reception Celebration, and as Lucinda Guy, the creative director of Soundart Radio told me, this is because
Reception, because we’ve been working a lot with reception kids, but also with radio. Reception is a great word. So celebrating both those things, celebrating young children’s voices and celebrating analogue radio, which we love here.
Every Child Matters aims to help schools promote literacy and oracy skills by using radio as a learning tool to help children better understand the world that they live in, and how they relate to each other. The aim is to improve their listening and speaking skills by focussing on the sounds around them and the way that they make sounds themselves.
The event consisted of an exhibition and workshops, and was an opportunity to show the work that the children had been making in the schools over the previous year. As Lucinda explained to Sarah Gray, one of the other organisers of the event, this was an opportunity for people to do things that they might not have done before, like recording. But it’s not just about sitting in front of a microphone and reading a script. The approach that the project takes is to get people telling stories and making things like cut-up books, so that anyone can get on air.
As Shelly Hodgson, co-producer of the project explains,
We’d like to think that this project broadens people’s minds and allows people to think about how narrow that our perception of radio can be. Because it’s a constant challenge for us. To challenge those expectations that there’s going to be news, and then there’s going to be the weather, and then there’s going be this segment where they do this, and so on and so forth, all throughout the day. Whether you’re listening to a local radio station or BBC. We’ve got this kind of fluid, dreamlike state that we can just play with really challenges people.
Emily Best from the National Literacy Trust told me how important the development of literacy and oracy is,
Literacy is a big issue in this country, especially in areas of high deprivation, or where there’s not a lot of opportunities for young people. And so having a space where you can speak in a really free way, but also having those stimuli is very important. So having topics to talk about or discussions, and having a group of people that will give you ideas, means that you’re not completely in freefall. You’ve got opportunities to developing an argument, or a line of inquiry, or a line of thinking. But it’s not in a classroom context. It’s important to be enjoyable. Speaking for enjoyment. Just as with reading for enjoyment, children.
*Thanks to Sarah Gray for letting me use the audio from her Facebook Live video.