How a sports podcast presented by school pupils with autism was nominated for an international award

The podcast has only been going for eight months, but it is has gone from strength to strength

Pupils at a school for autistic children in Wolverhampton have reached the final eight of a national podcast competition.

Supported by teacher Adam Millichip, the pupils at Tettenhall Wood School set up the TWS sports podcast in May 2021 and started by interviewing local sports personalities.

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Soon, however, they were chatting to people from around the world, and have since interviewed former England cricketer Matthew Hoggard and Wales international footballer Dave Edwards as well as many others.

TWS Sports Podcast is created and presented by students from Tettenhall Wood School, Wolverhampton

Adam spoke to NationalWorld about how the podcast got started, what it’s been like to be a part of and how it feels to get so far in the competition.

He said: “It’s been an incredible seven months, it’s grown and grown and it’s doing very well at the moment.

“I was listening to some sports podcasts during lockdown and got me thinking that this was something that our students could do.

“Our school is for autistic children, so every child has autism.

“Something that generally autistic people struggle with is communication, especially face to face communication.

“I thought podcasting would be good for this as it takes away that kind of social communication.

“I thought that our students could take part in a podcast via Zoom then our students could talk to these sportsmen and women.

“I took the idea to our head teacher who was fully behind it and within a few weeks it was all set up.

“I had contacts for one or two footballers and some other local sports people so we did these initially, but then after one or two episodes we were getting people from all around the world.”

The TWS Sports podcast logo

Adam talked of how the nomination came about, adding: “We were nominated for a global sports podcast award before Christmas.

“It went to a judging panel and we were selected to be shortlisted into the final eight for Sports Podcast award in the best quality and social impact category.

“There were over 200,000 sports podcasts so to reach the final eight as just a small school in the West Midlands is incredible.

“The BBC has a podcast and there’s also one on the Olympics in our category and there is a leaderboard on the website for votes and we are currently top above both of these.

“To be in this category and currently beating these podcasts is just incredible.

“The children love it, it keeps on growing. At first, I didn’t really know exactly what a podcast was.

“I’d heard of them but didn’t really know what they were. The students were very much the same, as they had never listened to a podcast.

The podcast has been nominated in the ‘Best Equality & Social Impact Category’

“At first it was the unknown, we didn’t quite know how it would go, but our first episode was with England rugby player Jamie Noone. He was fantastic with us.

“As every episode went on, we became more comfortable and the students learned more about what podcasts were and what needed to be done.

“The students aren’t in my class, but they’ll come up to me in the corridor and say ‘Adam we’ve got this question’ or ‘who are we speaking to next week’.

“They are really engaged in it, we’ve had some amazing opportunities through it.

The podcast has provided some of the students with a silver screen opportunity, as Adam added: “One of the people we interviewed before Christmas was former rugby player Keith Mason.

“Since retiring in about 2012 he has become an actor.

“His own film premiered in November and he invited us to it. He’s currently making another film at the moment and he’s asked myself and the two students to be in the film.

“To have these opportunities for our students is remarkable, it goes to show the strength of the podcast and how many people it’s reached.

“We’ve had four students involved since the start, and we try and give them five or six months at a time before changing it up a bit.

“This year we’ll need to change, as two of our students leave as they are sixth form college students.

“We try to change up as often as we can but we try not to change it too much because the students need a long period of time to be able to practice these skills and get comfortable.

“We’re trying to get more involved as it’s not just the face to face interviews, there’s the research and the behind the scenes stuff.”

To listen to the podcast, click here

To vote for it in the competition, click here and follow the instructions below

  • Register - It takes 30 seconds to register.
  • Click on ‘not a podcaster’
  • Click on the ‘Best Equality & Social Impact’ category.
  • Then vote for TWS Sports Podcast.

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