With Adam Millichip, Tettenhall Wood School, Wolverhampton
Podcasts are having a moment right now — even we have one. We talk about SEND of course, but if you wanted to host a podcast of your own, what would you choose? And how would you get big-name guests?
Today’s post is about a group of young people and their teacher at a special school for autistic young people, who’ve done just that — and won a global Sports Podcast Award in their first year. Under
Tettenhall Wood School in Wolverhampton, teacher, Adam Millichip, set up the TWS Sports podcast in 2021 to help pupils learn key skills such as communication, developing social skills, improving confidence and much more. They also aim to raise awareness and acceptance of autism to the wider community. They’ve managed to attract famous names from the world of sports, and even won a global Sports Podcast Award the same year. This December sees their 100th edition.
Adam takes up the story…
We’re amazed at out autistic learners’ podcast achievements. By Adam Millichip
The TWS Sport podcast was set up in May 2021 as a way to teach and develop key skills to our learners. We wanted to think outside of the box and create a new way of learning and help to enrich our young people with new experience and opportunities. Autism is often associated with difficulties with social communication and social interactions, so we wanted to focus on these skills and develop them within our learners. To be honest, we thought our podcast would be small with a few guests and would stop after a few weeks or months. Now, three years later, we are stronger than ever and it’s, we think, the only podcast in the UK hosted by autistic pupils—who interview some of the biggest names in sport.
How does Podcasting support their skills learning?
Podcasting can help to support their skills in a number of ways. The majority of our podcasts are via Zoom, giving the learners chance to develop more confidence when talking to our guests without having to be face-to-face with anyone. It helps to break down that barrier a little bit and allow our learners to feel more comfortable and confident when conducting the interview. The podcast also helps us to promote the amazing things autistic individuals can do, increasing awareness and acceptance of autism to the wider population.
Some of our big-name guests
Each week we speak to famous sportsmen and women from around the world, talking to them about their careers, their highs and lows and so much more. We have had the opportunity to interview some great sportsmen and woman such as Harry Redknapp, Sam Allardyce, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Mick Foley, Sir Clive Woodward, Nasser Hussain, Michael Atherton, TV presenter Paddy McGuinness and more.
The podcast has also given our learners the chance to visit a range of stadiums such as Anfield, Molineux and Croud Meadow. In addition to this, our learners have also been to film premieres, hosted live radio shows, been Commonwealth baton bearers, featured on BBC News toname just a few. As the podcast has progressed, we’ve been fortunate to speak to people from all over the world such as guests from Australia, USA and throughout Europe.
Paddy McGuinness spoke not just about his love of sport but also about his three autistic children and what it’s like as a parent. He gave us some brilliant feedback saying, “…listening to your students on the podcast gives me as a parent so much hope for the future, it is incredible what you are doing and achieving.” Football manager Harry Redknapp said, “I have loved being a guest on this podcast and the awareness for autism is incredible, well done.”
Hearing all of the kind messages from our guests gives our learners so much encouragement going forward and fills them with confidence. As well as this we have also received so many incredible messages from our listeners from around the world. Our learners love to read all of the reviews. One of our listeners Steven left us this review in September.
‘’I have followed this podcast for a few years now and I am just amazed at how it keeps growing and growing. Hearing the pupils talk so openly and passionately to the sportsmen and women is lovely to hear. The school should be extremely proud of this podcast and the hard work that has gone into it. Giving your pupils a voice that is heard around the world is so powerful and people are listening. Please keep these podcasts coming, every Tuesday when the new episode is released, I turn it on as soon as I get in the car to go to work. Keep up the great work.’’Steven, TWS Sports podcast listener.
A range of skills development
We have had a number of learners involved with the podcast over the past three years. Some enjoy supporting with the editing of the podcast, while others prefer to host and interview the guests. One of our learners, Tom, who has hosted the podcast from the start said, “This podcast has given me so many opportunities that I never thought were possible. I would love to leave school and work within the media as this podcast has really given me a passion for media work.” Alyssa, who has hosted the podcast for over a year added, “This podcast is really inspirational to me, it helps me to improve my communication and confidence and most importantly I am proud of myself because of what I have been doing”.
In 2021 the TWS Sports Podcast won a global sports podcast award. We were shortlisted in the ‘Best Equality and Social Impact’ category at the Sports Podcast Awards and we came out as winners, beating podcasts produced by the BBC and the Olympic Games. Firstly, to be nominated in our first year was such an incredible honour but to go on and win the award was beyond any of our expectations. To gain that recognition for all of our hard work was incredible and an unforgettable experience for our learners. Our Head of school, Helen Masters, says, “I am so incredibly proud of all of the learning involved with the podcast, they have made the school, the community and themselves so proud, they are superstars”.
We are so proud of what we have achieved over the last few years, we have done things beyond our wildest dreams and we cannot wait to see what the next few years has in store for the TWS Sports Podcast.
You can find the podcast here, and we’ve embedded an episode with Pat Nevin on Spotify below:
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