Ysgol Y Deri, in Penarth, is a special school catering to the wide-ranging needs of its student population.

It is designed to help pupils with autism, learning difficulties and physical disabilities.

It does so with aplomb.

Ysgol y Deri officially opened on November 10th 2014.

It is the result of a merger of three formerly separate schools: Ashgrove School, Ysgol Maes Dyfan and Ysgol Erw’r Delyn.

Ashgrove was a school for pupils with autism, Maes Dyfan catered for pupils with moderate to severe learning difficulties and Erw’r Delyn was for pupils with profound and multiple learning and medical needs.

Ysgol y Deri now caters for all of these needs under one roof.

There are 263 pupils, ranging in age from 3 to 19, with almost as many staff, at about 240.

Pupils are drawn from the Vale of Glamorgan as well as from the neighbouring local authorities of Cardiff, Newport, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Swansea.

I was first shown to the Early Intervention Building, where children from the age of three to five were taught.

These students had been identified from a young age as having autism or other behavioural and learning difficulties.

There I was introduced to Elias, aged five. He shook my hand, and showed me some of the facilities.

I was shown how the “Magic Carpet” works, an interactive board on the floor. It lit up with a flower pattern, that moved and shimmered when stood on.

I was then invited to the soft play room, where Elias flung himself over the equipment, scampering above me and the assistant. He grinned for the camera.

Ysgol Y Deri particularly shines in the creative approaches it takes to putting its students first.

In the big school I was shown to “The Holodeck”, a Star-Trek-esque room filled with projectors and touchscreen sensitive walls.

There was a French quiz projected across the walls, and the students jumped around the room selecting the correct words.

The sensory experience was not only impressively creative, but vital to some students’ learning.

The school has many similar rooms built to offer a multi-disciplinary team approach to the youngsters and offer a fully holistic experience.

They have a large team of therapists on site, including nurses, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, physiotherapists, music therapists and play therapists.

They also offer a huge range of interventions, designed to put their pupils’ happiness and education at the forefront.

They offer yoga, mindfulness lessons, climbing, gardening, wood work, pet therapy, rebound therapy and hydrotherapy, as just a small example. Timetables are crafted to suit individuals’ needs, as some pupils respond better than others to certain lessons.

I was shown to a classroom where a group of seven students worked on their laptops.

These students were proud of their work and excited to talk about maths.

We were then ushered through as a group for a photo with next door’s class, a group with physical disabilities.

The students waited patiently as overhead cranes helped those who could not walk into position.

Everyone smiled. Thumbs and peace signs were flashed.

Afterwards, a Learning Support Assistant tapped me on the shoulder and reminded me to take a photo of Caitlyn.

I pointed the camera at her, and Caitlin’s smile immediately reached her ears.

Maxine, a fellow student, told me how proud her family were of her and her work.

The happiness of every one of the pupils is palpable, filling every area of the school, as does the pride of the teachers.

“We have our pupils come back in every now and then,” said Stacey Long, the school’s transition officer.

She helps pupils move on from the school and into adult life.

“They always tell me how much the school meant to them, how helpful it was in getting a job.

“We try hard to get pupils ready for adult life where we can.

“We have a coffee shop on campus where several students get plenty of work experience.”

The curriculum covers both the national curriculum as well as general life skills.

One interactive quiz I was shown could be rapidly switched from a lesson on the Great Fire of London, to a quiz on which materials go in which recycle bin.

There are plenty of extra-curricular activities on offer too, including choir and youth club and regular trips outside of school.

I was given a glimpse into a gym, along with a music recording room with plenty of recording equipment, and the school radio room.

Outside, pupils are given a huge playground with an outdoor classroom, space to play sport, a climbing wall and little walled off sections for each of the primary classes.

Developer Barratt Homes was also on the site, building a sensory garden for students to enjoy.

Last week a group of pupils of varying abilities went on a trip to Paris, where they were involved with various Comenius [European Union education] projects and forged links with numerous schools in other European countries. Several pupils couldn’t wait to tell me about it, showing off photos.

Chris Britten, the head teacher of Ysgol Y Deri, said: “We work with every child. They are all different and we treat every one as an individual. We meet their needs so they can flourish, both in school and after they leave.” He is immensely proud of his staff and pupils.

It’s easy to see why.