This film is part of Free

Hesley Hall

An affecting film of children with severe physical impairments, segregated in a special school, at play and coping with their class work.

Documentary 1970 18 mins Not rated


From the collection of:

Logo for Yorkshire Film Archive


This film provides an opportunity to see how children with physical handicaps were treated in a specialist school in 1970, before the shift in attitudes towards the integration of disabled children into mainstream schools, partly signalled in the 1970 Education Act. Members of Doncaster Cine Club have provided a useful commentary highlighting the progressive aspects of Hesley Hall School at that time, noting that one former resident went on to become a solicitor.

This is one of many fine films made by the Doncaster Cine Club during their highly prolific year of 1970. The history of the school is somewhat hazy. It was operating as a school for the physically disabled from at least the 1940s (at that time labelled “cripples”), but it is not clear at what point it stopped being a school and functioned mainly as the headquarters of the Hesley Group which was established in 1975. This group continues to provide schools for children with special needs, mainly related to autism, at Wilsic Hall and Fullerton House. Since this film the integration of children with physical impairments into mainstream schools has been encouraged, although this remains a contested policy.