Title ID 98Collection ID343
Title[Patcham House Special School: International Spastics Games in Southern France]
CollectionPatcham House Special School
ThemePublic Services
KeywordsBeaches Boats Ceremonies Children Disabled Persons Ferries Holidays Sport Youth
LocalMarvejol St. Mary's
RegionalIsles of Scilly
NationalEurope France England United Kingdom
ProductionPatcham House Special School
CameraNorman Clark
FormatColour Silent
Duration13min. 15sec.
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


The headmaster of Patcham House Special School in East Sussex films two of his pupils as they compete at the 'International Spastics Games' in Southern France, one of whom is seen being awarded a silver medal. The film also includes brief scenes from a school holiday to the Isles of Scilly.


The film opens with shots of people standing on the deck of a ferry making a sea crossing to France; a woman is seen briefly standing in front of the camera. Two runners and a cyclist are seen lining up on a running track; the track is on a hillside and the camera pans around capturing the view of the valley beyond. A large group of athletes are filmed assembled next the running track, the different groups hold national flags and a sign denoting the country they represent. Some athletes are standing, others are sitting in wheelchairs. The camera zooms in on the Great Britain team who are wearing green jumpers. Spectators are sitting in the stand watching. Two of the Great Britain team members parade a flag - "I.C.P.S." which is then raised up a flag pole. The Great Britain team lead a procession on the running track, followed by the other teams; before posing as a group. Shots of the stadium complex and the games underway, including shot put, cycling and weightlifting. Five girls from the Great Britain team are seen on a podium being presented with medals.

The second part of the film briefly features a Patcham House holiday to the Isles of Scilly; some of the group are seen playing on a beach, the film ends as some of them are seen boarding a small boat.

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.