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This term, a team of Y12 pupils have launched their new podcast ‘Work in Progress’, to discuss topics that matter to them and encourage others to do the same.

Max, Izzy, Jed and Alex have launched this new initiative to explore some of the big issues that strike a chord with them and their peers – from conversations with friends, on social media or in the news – and facilitate open and positive discussion. Available to their fellow pupils and parents, the first two episodes cover the topics of Masculinity and Failure, with a third due imminently, in collaboration with FemSoc, on Boundaries.

Jenny McLoughlin, Assistant Head (Pupil Engagement), explains: “By creating a space where it’s not just okay, but actively encouraged, to ask questions, they try to untangle the many competing – and often conflicting – opinions that surround the focus of each episode. It’s a really brilliant (and eye-opening!) insight into how young people are thinking about some of these issues and has already provoked so many interesting conversations with colleagues and pupils.”

The Work in Progress podcast is designed with peer education in mind and has also seen use within PSHE to counter some of the prevalent narratives Y12 felt that younger pupils were hearing around masculinity. The first episode was used with both Y10 and Y11 to encourage discussions around gender stereotypes.

Izzy explains: “Especially for the masculinity one, it was a lot of ideas that all of us had running around our heads so to be able to put that into a project was nice, to get those thoughts into a space. It’s an exciting new format for PSHE.”

Max agrees: “The mentoring aspect of it, the idea that we are helping out the younger pupils is definitely a big part of it because you felt like these ideas were quite complicated. It was nice to be able to show them that these conversations are good conversations.”

Alex adds: “I have an older brother so I’ve always had advice from him, but I think if I didn’t have that, I would have really struggled in those early years on who to be or how to act. This podcast is a good way to address that.”

The podcast project is part of Highgate’s broader pastoral strategy to allow pupils the space to articulate their own experiences to younger pupils, both as a powerful education tool, but also to validate those experiences. It is also a means for parents to become part of the conversation, helping to build discussions at home to support the work going on in school.

The upcoming episode, Boundaries, is a collaboration with the leaders of FemSoc, looking at friendship boundaries and TikTok therapizing, amongst other points. “When we went into the discussion room, we knew it would be about feelings but we didn’t know where it would go, and we unearthed this really interesting topic of conversation,” Jed reflects.

The collaboration aspect will continue in future episodes to ensure a diversity of voices and points of view from across the School.

Rebecca Golland, Deputy Head-Pastoral, concludes: “Hearing pupils discuss issues that matter to them, and to the rest of the pupil body, in a mature, open-minded and genuinely discursive manner is both refreshing and inspiring.

“They have created an enlightening podcast series that explores a range of complex topics in an accessible and supportive way, making it ok to not have all the answers and allowing space for grey areas. I hope that pupils, parents and staff will enjoy listening to the first two episodes and use them as a jumping off point for conversations both in school and at home.”