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Documentary on Calne school’s Africa trip
2:00pm Saturday 26th January 2013 in Calne
A television documentary focusing on Springfields Academy in Calne has inspired letters from all over the world asking for information and advice.
The documentary, titled The Hottest Classroom on Earth, followed the journey of special needs pupils who travelled to Tanzania to meet the Maasai tribe.
It appeared 26 times over two weekends on BBC News 24, with the second weekend spanning New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
It then went on to BBC World every day for two weeks, reaching around 100 million viewers and prompting letters from countries ranging Spain and Sri Lanka to Iran and Iraq.
The trip aimed to teach the young people perseverance, self-control and teamwork as part of the school’s outdoor classroom initiative.
During the ten-day experience they walked more than 100km along the Great Rift Valley, visited an African school and had dinner cooked for them by celebrity chef Antony Worrall Thompson.
Head teacher Trystan Williams and Springfields pupil Matthew Crosby, who both went on the trip, also travelled to Media City in Manchester to be interviewed for BBC One Breakfast on December 9.
The interview gave Matthew, aged 14, the chance to tell viewers how the school had changed his life by helping him to control his ADHD and Asperger’s Syndrome.
Matthew, who developed learning difficulties around the age of five, said: “When I came to Springfields they began to diagnose my problems and help me learn my behaviour was unacceptable.
“I applied for Tanzania and that really changed my life into who I am now. It brought us together as a sort of family.
“One of our goals was to promote special education in the UK, so if places like Iran and Iraq are getting the message that’s even better.”
Mr Williams said: “The key message is you can work with young people to transform lives. When Matthew spoke on the BBC people couldn’t believe how articulate he was. The majority of those messages said they didn’t know where to turn to for support and were asking for advice, help and guidance. Our message is if you give a young person confidence they can succeed against the odds.”