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The UK’s biggest special school, Ysgol Y Deri returns to screens tonight

16 Jan 2023 3 minute read
Ysgol Y Deri students with head teacher Chris Britten – Photo: BBC Wales

BBC cameras will again capture the reality of life in the UK’s largest special school, Ysgol Y Deri.

‘A Special School’ will return to screens tonight with the first of a three part documentary which celebrates the school’s work in supporting students with a diverse range of disabilities.

Series one proved a heart-warming hit back in 2020 when the BBC Wales show pushed the boundaries of common misconceptions and introduced viewers to an array of quirky staff at the school along with its remarkable and hardworking students.

The Penarth based special education school is the largest of its kind in the UK and caters to the specific needs of young people aged three to 19 who have a range of learning and physical needs.

The first series featured 16-year-old Jacob, born with cerebral palsy and quadriplegia and cameras followed him as he attended a trip to a purpose built site in Exmoor.

The site had been carefully adapted to be inclusive of every student regardless of their disability and Jacob was able to enjoy the trip and take part in his wheelchair.


The first series was praised by viewers for inspiring conversations about disability across Wales.

Headmaster of Ysgol y Deri, Chris Britten, said: “I’m looking forward to everyone seeing what happened when we welcomed the cameras back for a brand new series of A Special School, a true celebration of the children and the staff here at Ysgol y Deri.

“I’m excited that audiences will once again experience the remarkable sprit of the school that provides a place for fun, laughter and achievement to pupils who are differently able.”

With the show’s return, Rhuanedd Richards, Director BBC Cymru Wales announced a new commitment to disability on and off screen.

Traineeships specifically for people with disabilities have been created in partnership with Disability Wales and consist of eight-week placements in either radio, news or business and operations departments.

Rhuanedd was joined by the stars of the programme, the staff and students of Ysgol y Deri in the company of Lucy Owen.

She said: “One of the things I’m most passionate about is ensuring BBC Wales’s content and its workforce is representative of the audiences we serve and as an industry, we’ve got more to do when it comes to reflecting audiences with disability.

“That’s why we’re launching this new commitment to increase the representation of disabled people on and off our screens, and ensure that BBC Wales is an attractive and inclusive career option for people with disabilities.

“It’s an exciting development and one which I hope will spark conversation and dialogue as well as brilliant programmes and content.”

27% of the Welsh population now identifies as disabled – five per cent higher than the UK average.

As well as the second series of A Special School, which was produced in partnership with The Open University and returns to BBC One Wales, there will be features on Scrum V including a profile of the Wales Deaf rugby teams – women and men – as they look ahead to their World Cup in Argentina.

‘A Special School’ is screened tonight at 8.30pm on BBC One Wales.

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