I was honoured to be invited onto Pakeman Radio. The sound quality and editing was excellent, and the interviewer well-prepared and poised. It was very much like the interviews you’d expect to do at the BBC, except that the studio personnel (including sound engineer Hamza and interviewer Mert in the photo) are below the age of 11. The studio is regularly in operation, and I was following in the recent footsteps of several distinguished scientists who’d been asked on the programme via the science and music group Minerva Scientifica.
Pakeman Primary School was very busy the day I visited, with a Bake-Off coming up shortly in aid of Children in Need. In a few moments’ conversation I learned that the school had managed to re-institute tuition on musical instruments, despite a recent funding cut, because they thought it vitally important; and I viewed a video of some excellent all-school singing performances. We toured a free-standing science lab which the school have fundraised and built themselves – it is a hugely popular lesson with the students, who don professional-looking white coats when they enter the room.
We were in Hornsey Road, North London, next to a couple of busy arterial routes, in an area which could reasonably be described as ‘deprived’. However, the wealth of this educational experience made quite the opposite impression on me. I would love to know what is the nugget, the acorn, that allows a normal-looking London school like this to grow into something so clearly successful. I follow media reporting of educational matters out of interest, and nearly all of it highlights problems and perceived failings, which of course do need to be discussed some of the time. But I think I’ll turn my radio dial to Pakeman Radio in future.
[Thanks to Herbie Clarke/Minerva Scientifica for this photo; and to Pakeman's Assistant Head, Emma Bonnin.]