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Hottest Classroom On Earth

 

 

 

The challenge – June 2012

A 9 day trek across the floor of the Great Rift Valley starting from the sacred Mount Longido and finishing at the stunning Crater Highlands and the world famous Ngorongoro Crater. This a unique and physically and mentally challenging expedition guided by members of the Maasai community, once the fiercest of warriors but now struggling to retain their lifestyle in this fascinating geographical and geological region.

Context

 

The Springfields Academy is unique: becoming the UK’s first ‘specialist’ Academy. Nestled in the picturesque town of Calne, Wiltshire, the residential school is home to children with severe emotional, medical  and behavioural issues. Written off as un-teachable, these students have extreme communication difficulties. Many have had troubled pasts and are diagnosed with conditions such as autism and ADHD.  The Springfields Academy belongs to the ‘Engage’ network which is the National Body which supports the education of disaffected pupils.

 

In this series of observational documentaries we have exclusive access to schools within the ‘Engage’ network, its pupils, staff and expedition leaders. We follow the hopefuls through the rigorous selection process; the elation of the lucky few and the disappointment of those who don’t make the grade. We follow them through the highs, lows and hardships of their journey as they try to reach their final goal; the equator.

 

Central to the film is Springfields Principal, Trystan Williams and his Vice Principal Jon Hamp. Both believe that labels knock a child’s confidence or offer them an excuse to fail. Only by challenging students, will they exceed expectations. ‘Some people will think I’m mad,’ Mr. Williams admits!

 

Among the hopefuls is Michael. He grew up with an abusive, alcoholic father who eventually killed himself. At 13, Michael found his body. Michael was left emotionally scared, with a furious temper.  Thanks to his experiences at Springfields, he now talks openly of his experiences and has become a major prospect in the world of rugby … but how will Michael cope with the rigorous selection process and, if successful, how will he survive living with the Maasai?

 

The expedition leaders are former Royal Marine Commando, Alan Chambers. Veteran of Britain’s first unsupported expedition to the North Pole he was awarded an MBE for Determined Leadership in Constant Adversity and Dr Ed Coats who rose to fame in the race to the South Pole with James Cracknell and Ben Fogle. But how will they manage a group of supposed delinquents?

 

The challenge that faces the pupils involves self-belief, teamwork and the spirit to overcome adversity. Those who succeed will prove a point to themselves and those who have written them off. For the expedition leaders there is the nagging doubt that the doubters maybe right and these pupils are indeed lost causes.

 

The documentary series The Hottest Classroom on Earth will follow them every step and stumble along the way.

 

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