Jan 25, 2006

Music Venues


--The Wroxham School in Potters Bar is a thriving primary establishment with an enviable performance record — and an ethos that states that “everyone should have a voice”.

Voted in the top 100 schools for value added performance, they are now putting their ethos literally to the test, having — with the aid of Soundcraft — set up a broadcast facility for the benefit of its 4-11-year-old pupils.

This unusual development was stimulated by a government initiative, promoting communication opportunities in primary schools.

“The school is run as a democracy in which we try to give our children exciting learning opportunities,” explained head-teacher Alison Peacock. “When the government sent out their information packs, our deputy head Simon Putnam suggested we promote speaking and listening via a full broadcast facility.”

The only problem was funding. But one of the pupils’ mothers, Louise Hingston — a piano teacher who also worked in the HR department of Soundcraft — volunteered her company’s assistance

She explained the school’s plight and the pro-audio manufacturers — based less than a mile away — jumped to their aid, supplying an E8 Series mixing desk and amplification. The school contributed £500 — enabling them to invest in loudspeakers and CD players — and the installation expertise was provided by one of the schools governors.

Using Audacity sound editor and recording software downloaded from the web, ‘Radio Wroxham’ is anchored in the library, and broadcasts in school during Breakfast Club, lunchtimes at the Wroxham Café and after school at Kids’ Club. It is also hoping to get some outdoor speakers to enable it to broadcast out to the playground.

Further help from Soundcraft in the form of a BSS Soundweb will enable it to route broadcasts around different areas of the school selectively.

In fact Soundcraft will maintain an ongoing relationship with the School, as VP Marketing & Communications, Keith Watson explained. “As part of the Business in the Community’s 'Partners in Leadership’ programme we were approached with a view to partnering with Wroxham School.

“It was pure coincidence that we had already donated the mixing desk — and of course we immediately agreed to meet up.

“It quickly became obvious that a school of kids can be a glowing example to all of us in industry; with the right support from visionary and enthusiastic staff, the kids have only a 'can do' attitude.”

And Alison Peacock agrees. “We have gone from strength to strength, with the result that we have won the Herts ICT Award for radio and have now attracted interest from Capital Radio. We are also working with Simon Balle School in Hertford, making jingles and rap — and we even have our own little rock band. In fact we are a school that is doing everything to engage.”

Ms Peacock says that while the initiative is proving popular, there is still much further they can go. “We need to develop more expertise and try and find some way in which we can expand in terms of quality lisetening.”

But word of Wroxham’s School’s accomplishments in building ICT skills is travelling fast. “Other schools are now interested, and the message will be broadcast further in March, when we are speaking at a Herts ICT conference.”

Alison Peacock concludes, “It’s wonderful that other staff are fully on board with this initiative. As head teacher, when ideas like this come along you either put your foot on the brakes or the accelerator. I chose the latter!”

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