My own digital story is a look at the presence of grammar schools in England. I thought this would be a good idea as the topic of grammar schools has re-entered the news recently due to proposals by Theresa May’s Conservative government to bring them back, albeit in a slightly different form. It also gave me a chance to go into detail about their history, as I attended a grammar school between the ages of 11 and 16. This meant that I can tell my own story as well as investigating via people I know from my school days. It also means I have a slightly extensive contacts book of worthy contributors, such as former teachers and illustrious alumni. Because of my many years there, I also have a wide selection of visual content to implement, ticking both of the boxes required for the piece.
The presence of Simon Elmes in the radio department helped my production process, as I was able to get in touch with Michael Rosen – the former children’s laureate and education expert – who contributed what can only be described as pure gold, and therefore is woven in my piece on a very regular basis. I did also have to travel to and from Birmingham quite regularly to acquire some content from people and my former school. The production process has been quite smooth though, with techniques that I’ve honed over the year and a half I’ve been studying the course, and plenty of material obtained from interviews. As well as this, I had a very structured idea of the story in mind before even starting the production process, making transitioning it from mental notes to an actual piece of storytelling a fairly easy process in comparison to other attempts at making feature packages.
While producing it, I thought back to the theories expressed in Reality Radio: Telling True Stories in Sound and cut excerpts from my interviews to feature in the piece, based on Jad Abumrad’s instruction that the feature should lead to moments of wonder and maintain the “pleasant illusion of two guys chatting”. This led me to keep excerpts from Michael Rosen’s interview in which he describes the process he went through to take the 11+ and explains in vivid detail a moment of panic he had while still being only ten years old, which resulted in him sitting up in bed in a cold sweat. The informality of the chat but the fact that Rosen told the story so well you could almost picture it convinced me that it simply had to be a part of my feature. The theory of sound evoking feeling also led me to include various school noises, the grim squeal of a blackboard and the all too familiar hum of playground chatter and football or rugby.