As you must be acutely aware the series called ‘School’ has recently been broadcast on BBC2, and I watched the episodes featuring Marlwood School with some interest.

I have a relationship with the school going back a decade, during which time I have curated numerous ambitious opera projects with the school in my former role as head of education of English Touring Opera. The last was in many ways one of the best. ‘The Almondsbury Bells’ was written with the students to celebrate the renewal of the bells in St Mary’s Church, and the local topic seemed to galvanise the young cast.

I have to say on the record that Marlwood is one of my and ETO’s favourite schools to visit in the U.K., with a student and staff body who are as gratifying to work with as any I know.

Their openness to new ideas and new opportunities is remarkable.

More than that they collaborate freely and beautifully with students with different life experience and needs from New Siblands, the neighbouring special school, who have featured in all our integrated projects.

The struggles imposed by government cuts and the rural location are clearly fiendish, and led the programme makers to dwell on poor Ofsted reports and attendance issues.

But they should have also reflected the awesome appetite of the school’s students for learning new skills, and their generosity.

And the staff I have encountered are nothing if not dedicated, warm and giving in every way.

Tim Yealland

Former head of education at English Touring Opera