Special school makes a movie

In many schools, the Christmas production involves cardboard trees, a handful of tinsel and a stiffly-recited script.

But at Frank Wise special school, the Christmas production involves glamorous locations, celebrity guest stars and a red-carpet premiere.

Each class at the Oxfordshire school worked on a three-minute film of a famous sporting event. Their re-enactments ranged from the 1984 gold-medal Olympic performance by ice-skaters Torvill and Dean to England's monumental defeat by New Zealand's rugby team in 1995.

To provide accurate footage, pupils travelled to nearby sporting facilities. So a small child in leg-braces simulates Roger Bannister's four-minute mile at Iffley sportsground in Oxford.

Sean O' Sullivan, Frank Wise's deputy head, said: "This is a great vehicle for getting the children into unfamiliar environments, where they are responding to you, communicating with you."

Pupils also invited major sporting figures to take part. So John McCririck, the racing announcer, provides commentary to camera, as three-year-olds wander past on hobby horses, recreating Frankie Dettori's record-breaking seven Ascot wins in one day.

And older pupils travelled to Old Trafford, Manchester United's home ground, to relive England's 1966 World Cup victory.

They were joined by former England captain, Sir Bobby Charlton, who kicks the ball around with them.

Anthony Munday, senior class teacher, said: "Mainstream children would have been overawed. But ours liked him because he's nice and friendly, not because of who he is.

"Some of our students can look quite unusual and say socially unacceptable things but Bobby Charlton didn't seem remotely fazed by any of them."

The completed film premiered at the Banbury Odeon last week, with pupils arriving in a chauffeur-driven limousine. A red carpet was laid over the cinema's steps, and a red-carpeted ramp added, so that even children in wheelchairs could have a filmstar entrance.

Mr O'Sullivan hopes that his guest stars are impressed with the professionalism of the final product.

"If it had been mediocre, they might have been dismissive," he said. "But we have a film that's being shown in the cinema, that will have a real impact on the children. Can they afford not to be in it?"

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Adi Bloom

I am one of the reporters at the TES, specialising in educational research, eating disorders, sex education, gender issues and, worryingly, teachers who appear on reality TV.