Pupils at a Bradford special school are relishing the opportunity to challenge expectations and take on mainstream schools in a dance competition next week.

Southfield School in Little Horton came second in the Yorkshire leg of the Rock Challenge competition last month, wowing the crowd in St George’s Hall and booking their place in the regional competition in the process.

Next Friday, the team of 40 students and 20 staff travel to Grimsby for the Northern finals of the competition, where they will be competing against Tong High School and other schools from as far afield as Belfast and Whitehaven.

The school’s head said that working with mainstream schools has really boosted the confidence of the students.

Their performance is set in the world of Camelot, and accompanied by music from a wide variety of genres. In the Yorkshire leg it featured a huge dragon as well as costumed dancers.

Although the school has entered the competition before, this year marked the first time that pupils with profound multiple learning difficulties have taken part.

The routine has been organised by dance instructor Anne Snowden, who said: “We are breaking the mould as only a few special schools enter the Rock Challenge nationally.

“It is not just about performing. Each team has to decide on a theme which reflects the people taking part and then a lot of work goes into choreographing, set and costume design and of course rehearsing.

“All of this activity is extremely beneficial to our students as it exercises their communication skills, requiring them to interact and work in teams, as well as taking them outside of the normal curriculum.”

If the school is successful in the final they will not have to compete in heats in future years of the competition – instead going straight to a ‘premier league’ competition of previous winners.

Organised by the Be Your Best Foundation, the Rock Challenge is held to promote healthy living and show young people that performing with friends can be the best high, turning them away from the lure of drink and drugs.