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Red carpet treatment for The Hollies, as school is nominated for prestigious film award

The Hollies, a special school for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), has been nominated for a prestigious, mainstream UK-wide award for its film club.

Pupils and teachers will be making their way to London on Monday 4, March to attend a star-studded ceremony with the likes of Welsh film star Luke Evans, to find out whether they have won the coveted prize. 

Autism impacts on social interaction, social communication, behaviour and interests. Many of the students experience difficulties with social activities, such as family visits to the cinema. To engage pupils, the film club has created their very own cinema, so pupils can access film in a safe, accepting environment. 

This has meant adapting materials and employing strategies to encourage and engage pupils to be able to engage in an authentic immersive cinema experience.

Cabinet Member for Education, Employment and Skills, Councillor Sarah Merry said: "This is an outstanding achievement for the children at The Hollies who have many skills and talents, nurtured and encouraged by the wonderful staff at the school. The film club has helped themflourish, both in their learning and social skillsand demonstrates how creativity, film and the arts can help to promote confidence and self-esteem, so that our pupils can go on to become happy and confident individuals.

"I am looking forward to watching the film and I wish everyone involved the very best of luck for the awards next month."

Already a pioneer school for well-being, The Hollies impressed judges for using elements from the expressive arts area of the Welsh Government's new curriculum, not yet out until next month.

Non Stevens, head of Into Film Cymru:"The Welsh Government's new curriculum puts an onus on teachers to use film in the classroom as a way to improve digital literacy, literacy and numeracy. What is striking about The Hollies and their unique film club is that they showcase how these techniques are having a real impact not only on these pupils' skills in the classroom but at home with their families. 

"Children who ordinarily say very little, manage to say a few words through animation. We know of one little boy who is now able to enjoy going to the cinema with the whole family, because attending the film club has meant he got used to the experience, with its epic assault on the senses. This film club has been nothing short but life changing."

Headteacher Lisa Marshall said:"It's not just a film club that's on a certain day or on a certain time after school. It's right through our curriculum. The children, the families benefit. It's had a massive impact - I think that's unique."

The 2019 nominations showcase an impressive range of UK film making talent and evidence young people's growing awareness and concern for the world around them, including topics such as food banks; anti-bullying; Trump; child online grooming and internet safety; Brexit; the miners; and history through the eyes of their grandparents.