Title ID 94Collection ID343
Title[Patcham House Special School: Fete etc.]
CollectionPatcham House Special School
ThemePublic Services
KeywordsAnimals Carnivals Castles Children Disabled Persons Fetes Games Outings Parades Parks Play Recreational Facilities Royalty Schools Sport Youth Zoological Gardens
LocalLondon Patcham Reading Alfriston Eastbourne Bodiam
RegionalGreater London Brighton and Hove Berkshire East Sussex
NationalEngland United Kingdom
ProductionPatcham House Special School
CameraNorman Clark
FormatColour Silent
Duration29min. 22sec.
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


A compilation of amateur films made by the headmaster of Patcham House Special School. The children, who have range of physical disabilities are seen at a carnival in London to mark the 50th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II, at various sports days, and on class outings to Alfriston, Eastbourne and Bodiam Castle.


The film opens with short and indistinguishable scenes. The schoolchildren are seen at a a carnival in Hyde Park, London (?). People in uniforms and waving flags march ahead of The Queen and Prince Philip in a procession to mark The Queen's 50th birthday; the crowd greets them enthusiastically and they wave back. The children gather around a camel and stroke its back. Shots of a large Kermit the Frog balloon, with sign: "Sponsored by Lord and Lady Grade from Macy's annual Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City". A band plays on top of an open top bus, sign on bus reads: Sunblest Sun bus, Helping Sunshine homes". The children are seen exploring a small thatched hut; they are accompanied by a teacher or parent (?).

The film cuts to shots of the children taking part in races at a 'Spastics Games' at Reading University; whilst some of them compete in the races, the others sit and watch next to the track. The children are then seen tossing skittles and throwing balls and taking part in more races. There are lots of smiles as the children are presented with certificates; a banner in the background reads: "National Spastics Games South East Region".

Back at Patcham House, the children are seen competing at sports again, this time at the school sports day. Parents sit around the edge of the field and watch the children taking part; they throw javelins, balls and skittles and compete in races. The parents or teachers (?) are then seen joining in with races as they compete in a course with different activities. One of the children is seen being presented with a shield by a man who kisses her on the cheek.

On a class outing to Drusillas at Alfriston, the children are seen standing next to a gypsy caravan and looking at the various animals in their enclosures. Two of the boys are seen sitting in the stocks and others take turns to play on a slide and other playground rides, including swing boats and a miniature train.

On another class outing to Eastbourne there are shots of children playing at a water park; parents or teachers (?) help the children as they play on various rides, including go-carts and a large slide. The children are seen paddling in the large pool, enjoying ice creams and playing in a sandpit. A picnic is eaten on the grass at the end of the time in the pool.

Back at Patcham House again, a marching band plays on the school field during a garden fete organised by the Friends of Patcham House School; stalls are seen set up around the edge of the field. Parents shake collection tins, posing for the camera.

The film ends with scenes of another class outing, this time to Bodiam Castle. The children sit on the grass eating a picnic, before crossing the moat on the bridge to reach the castle. Inside, the children are seen walking around the castle, some wave at the camera as it pans around.

Contextual information

The Patcham House Special School films held at Screen Archive South East were principally filmed to show to parents and Friends of the school, recording the out-of-school activities enjoyed by the pupils. The collection, which also includes [Patcham House Special School: International Spastics Games in Southern France] (1970) and [Patcham House Special School: Holiday to Scilly] (1981), contains images of summer term class day outings, fetes, school sports days and annual Spastics Games. They were filmed by the school's then headmaster, Norman Clark.

The Spastics Games evolved during the 1960s and 1970s when there were significant changes in social and governmental attitudes towards the education of disabled children. The 1944 Education Act, which had established a free secondary education system based on academic results at the age of eleven, did little to encourage integration. Indeed, it proved to cement the segregation between mainstream and 'special' schooling, with each having distinct curriculums. It was not until the 1970 Education (Handicapped Children) Act that all children in England and Wales were given the right to education - it also resulted in the transfer of responsibility for the education of disabled children from Health Authorities to the Local Education Authorities. It was also during this period that sports activities were integrated into the curriculum for special schools and colleges - the ideology concerning the importance of physical activities had been circulating since the formation of The Spastics Society in 1952. Thus the children at Patcham House Special School during the 1970s, whose disabilities included cerebral palsy, spine bifida, muscular dystrophy, heart problems and cystic fibrosis were amongst the first to benefit from these changes in the education field.

Screen Archive South East also holds films which look at life at other contemporary schools - for example, [A Day in the Life of the School] (1970) is an amateur film of Burwood Park School, a secondary school in Surrey for deaf children whilst [Nevill School Sports Events] (1960 - 1971) records sporting events at a mainstream secondary school.

Screen Archive South East houses several other films which record the educational provision for disabled children in the post-Second World War era. Children and staff from Chailey Heritage enjoy a day trip to the beach in Worthing in A Day’s Outing (ca. 1949) whilst Special School. Around & About with the Children of Queensmill Rd School (1949; 1954) features an outing to Bognor Regis for the female pupils of a London school.