Ysgol Y Deri to feature in new BBC documentary

Ysgol Y Deri is set to feature in a new BBC three-part series, A Special School, highlighting the inspirational work taking place to help pupils with special educational needs in the Vale of Glamorgan.


  • Wednesday, 09 September 2020

    Vale of Glamorgan



Located in Penarth, the school caters for students aged between three and 19 years who have a range of learning and physical needs and autism.

Ffion Humphries of Slam Media is producing the series of three 30-minute episodes, the first of which will air on BBC One Wales, Monday, September 14, at 8.30pm with a box set of all episodes released  on BBC iPlayer the same day.

“Ysgol Y Deri first came to my attention when I recorded a piece on Lisa Rees-Renshaw for BBC Classroom Heroes in 2017,” said Ffion.

“She was nominated, and subsequently won, the Pearson Teaching Award for Outstanding Use of Technology in Education.

“From the very first moment I stepped into the school I could feel that it was an extraordinary and exceptional place that would make a powerful documentary.

“Since that very first moment until now I remain in complete awe of both staff and students for their positivity and determination.

“This is a fly-on-the-wall documentary in Ysgol y Deri, charting the ups and the downs as we follow a number of students, staff and parents through the academic year.

“Each character has their own story and personality - and that’s one of the main things about Ysgol Y Deri, the celebration of individuality - every pupil has the chance and support to be their very own person.”

Ffion has been filming at the school over the last 12 months to gather updates on the personal stories that will feature in the series.

“The hardest thing about the project has been picking the main stories as Ysgol y Deri is bursting with strong characters and evocative journeys,” she added.

“We hope to show a true reflection of a special school and the importance of this establishment in the lives of its young pupils - it’s more than a school.

“One thing is evidentially clear, ‘can’t’ is not in the vocabulary of Ysgol y Deri - opportunities are given, boundaries are pushed, goals are reached - Special School is making the impossible, possible.”


Commissioning Editor for BBC Wales, Christina Macaulay said: “I’m so pleased to finally be sharing this series with audiences on television and iPlayer. Viewing the films in the edit we were laughing, we were crying. This is a special series about some very special people. 


"I’m very proud of it and the team who made it – and very grateful to the school and the local authority for allowing us to make this very important series.  I hope it will change how people think about special needs and disability.”

Ysgol Y Deri opened in 2014 after the amalgamation of three schools for children with special educational needs.

It forms part of the Penarth Learning Community, that also includes mainstream school St Cyres, and was one of five projects that benefitted from a £50 million Council investment in education.

A further investment of around £166 million on a range of schemes under Plan B of the Council’s 21st Century Schools programme will mean more children can be accommodated at the school in the future. 

Headteacher Chris Britten said: “As a school we aim to be positive, warm and welcoming. We have a fantastic range of facilities and staff with a 'can do' attitude.

“We work with every child as an individual ensuring that their educational and therapeutic needs are met so that they can flourish both within our school and when they leave.”