Staged build will allow new Loftus school for children with autism to open quickly

Murray Trembath

Support is being sought from Sutherland Shire businesses to help equip a new primary school for children with autism at Loftus.

Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) has received conditional development approval for the school on the site that already includes a TAFE college and University of Wollongong campus and the Cook School for children with challenging behaviour.

"Aspect is planning a staged build to allow students to move in, while some building continues," a spokeswoman said.

"However, we are hoping that the completed build will be finished by early 2020.

"Aspect is also looking for financial support from the local business community to help expedite the build and contribute to things like play equipment, tables and chairs, shade cover, etc.

"If anyone is interested in supporting the school we would love to hear from them: customerservice@autismspectrum.org.au

Earlier

A proposed new primary school at Loftus for children with autism has received development approval subject to conditions.

Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) is planning the complex on the site that already includes a TAFE college and University of Wollongong campus and the Cook School for children with challenging behaviour.

Aspect aims to add a high school and college in the future.

Sutherland Shire Council approved the primary school, subject to a number of conditions, including bushfire measures, being implemented before building starts.

An Aspect spokeswoman said they had had been working closely with the council throughout the development application process.

"We are extremely pleased that the application has been approved and confident that we can meet all of the conditions attached without upsetting our deadlines," she said.

Aspect had hoped to open at the start of 2019, but 2020 now appears to be an achievable target for the school, which will have 36 pupils.

National director of Aspect Education Elizabeth Gadek said in October, 2018, the organisation had been leasing premises from Sylvanvale at Kirrawee since 2004.

Due to a growth in Sylvanvale's services, they requested that we look for new premises, she said.

There is a critical lack of affordable specialist autism-specific education services for children on the autism spectrum in Sydney.

Ms Gadek said there was an average wait of two years to attend an Aspect School in Sydney.

"There are more than 400 children on our school waitlist, 154 of whom live in southern Sydney, and no high school base in the region," she said.

"Aspect's aim for the Loftus site is an autism-specific campus that, as well as housing a primary school, will eventually house a high school and a social enterprise college."

from https://www.theleader.com.au/story/61901...