A Special School Season 1
S01 E01Sep 14, 2020
Episode 1 Sep 14, 2020 For the first time cameras capture the reality of life in Britain’s biggest special school. This observational documentary shows what is possible when boundaries are pushed while educating children and young people with additional learning and physical needs. Through sheer determination, headteacher Chris Britten and his positive team of staff have shattered previous misconceptions. In this episode, pupils conquer their fears at an outdoor adventure centre in Exmoor. The focus of the trip is for young people to challenge their disability by being included in physical opportunities, as everyone should be. Activities include abseiling in a wheelchair. Back at the school, teacher Lisa Rees-Renshaw helps children who are nonverbal to communicate. Seven-year-old Felix has Miller-Dieker syndrome, which means the surface of his brain is abnormally smooth. Children with his condition don’t normally live past infancy. 'I don’t think he would be here if it wasn’t for the school,' says mum Alex, who describes her son as a little miracle. The school is definitely a big part of his life. Through using an eye-gaze device that enables pupils to control a cursor using their eyes, Lisa can give Felix the ability to express himself and make decisions.
S01 E02Sep 14, 2020
Episode 2 Sep 14, 2020 Working at Ysgol y Deri, Britain’s biggest special school is one of the most emotionally-demanding jobs in the teaching profession, but the rewards are enormous. This compelling observational documentary series shows what’s possible when boundaries are pushed while educating children and young people with additional learning and physical needs. Headteacher Chris Britten says, “When I first came into the special sector, people told me a lot about what children and young people couldn’t do. I’ve always wondered what they might do.” Through sheer determination Chris Britten and his positive team of staff have shattered previous misconceptions.Rebecca Jones has a class of eight competitive, autistic boys, each with their own individual needs. Ethan likes to answer the school’s telephone and every day, he’ll stand and stare at the phone until it rings. Rebecca has a plan, to make sure he’s settled and able to start learning and playing.15-year-old Luke, who likes watching documentaries and discussing religion, was born with a hole in his brain “like a doughnut” Luke says, “but I have sprinkles on mine”. Schizencephaly is a rare condition that has left Luke with long-term physical health problems. He is a very intelligent young man and mum Lowis describes Luke’s frustrations of being trapped in a body that doesn’t function. Ysgol y Deri is his lifeline and with voice-generating software, teachers are helping him to express his emotions. Communicating via computer he says, “I hate it when people patronise me, especially when people talk to me like a baby. It makes me feel hurt and uncomfortable. There are some people who don’t patronise me - my Mum, my family, my school staff and my friends - who accept me for who I am. It makes me feel humble.”A viewing experience that will leave you smiling, laughing and crying. This is more than just a school, this is A Special School.
S01 E03Sep 14, 2020
Episode 3 Sep 14, 2020 In the final programme of the series, headmaster Chris Britten is reminded of the impact that Ysgol y Deri, Britain’s biggest special school, has had on the life of its pupils. Preparing for life after education is a big priority for the school. They run a commercial kitchen on site, giving students work experience in a proper catering environment, as well as skills to enable them to lead independent lives. Teacher Sue Williams says, “The statistics are frightening. Only 6% of people with additional learning needs actually get any kind of employment. They fall of a cliff, really… We want to show employers that there’s a whole pool of people out there that they’re missing - and they should be taking on and supporting.”This compelling observational documentary series shows what’s possible when boundaries are pushed while working children and young people with additional learning and physical needs.There’s a full time nursing team based on site that gives the most vulnerable and ill children an opportunity to attend school and access their education.Today, nurse Leanne is responding to a medical emergency - a pupil has had a seizure and is having difficulty breathing.The school also helps pupils with personal care. Hairdresser Claire volunteers her time in the school’s salon to work with pupils who find it extremely difficult and sometimes painful to have their hair cut. It can take years to build up the trust.Drummer Damien and his bandmates meet for a weekly jamming session to perform cover songs. It’s also been a creative outlet for singer Rhiannon who struggles with anxiety. The rock band has transformed her self confidence.A viewing experience that will leave you smiling, laughing and crying. This is more than just a school, this is A Special School.