New purpose-built autism school set to open on the Gold Coast

A BRAND new purpose-built school for children with autism is about to open on the Gold Coast.

Josiah College has been built from the ground up, with every detail including the architecture, furniture, positioning of land, colours and even the movement of fans, planned around the children’s needs.

There’ll be just four kids in each class when the college opens its doors on Monday, April 23.


Classes will start with just 16 students across Years 2-5 before the school grows to cater for 64 junior and senior students in grades 2-10 by 2024.

The College will have a high staff to student ratio of eight students to one teacher and a teacher aide, and students will follow the Australian Curriculum which will be adjusted slightly to meet their needs.

The school forms part of the prestigious Emmanuel College, one of the city’s leading private schools.

Executive principal Patrick Innes-Hill says the years of planning and research have finally paid off.

“Children with autism deserve the same quality of education as every other child, and they deserve to thrive as much as any other child does.

“We want to see children from Josiah College either successfully transitioning back into mainstream education, or moving into the workforce with confidence.”

Extensive work has been done with architects to design the new school, taking into account recent research into the sensory sensitivity in children on the spectrum.

“Children with autism are wonderful people with incredible gifts and we want to enable them to recognise these and grow, and share them with the rest of society.”

“What to a neuro-typical child is just a background hum or glare from a white-board can be distracting or distressing to a child with autism, so we have designed Josiah’s buildings, gardens and even the furniture with this in mind.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the most recent figures show 86 per cent of children with autism who were attending school reported ‘having difficulty’.

The same report said that between 10 and 20 per cent of children with autism are outside of mainstream education, predominantly being home schooled or bouncing from school to school.

In 2015, an estimated 164,000 people – or 1 in 150 – had autism in Australia. More than 83,000 of them were children and young people aged 5-20.

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I’m sorry but this is not australias first purpose school built for Children on the spectrum. You need to do a fact check…..

Where in the article does it say it’s the first? I’ve re-read it 3 times and I can’t gind it.

I’ve heard its expensive ?? so again only the parents with money can afford to send their kids.

The fees for this school is out of reach fpr most families with autistic children. With the vast majority unable to work due to caring responsibilities and being at the beck and call of mainstream educators. Again this shows a segregation of the classes in our society as those with financial influences gain accesses to better education and the rest of us rummage in despair for our kids. I have 3 on the spectrum and had mainstream educators abuse my children both physically and mentally and No one from state or Federal govt have wanted to help me. Mainstream schooling is a joke and education minister allows it to happen despite me bringing it to her attention on several occasions….

The new school is a wonderful step…all the very best to school board,staff,students and carers….
We in other states admire and value the forward work in Brisbane in this field…take a bow Dr Tony Attwood….thank you for your teaching,beliefs .Much appreciated.

When the NDIS rolls out across the coast, there will be financial help, if you access the right LAC. We live in Toowoomba and there is a place called AEIOU that cater to early intervention for autistic kids 3 to 6 years old. Reasonable and Necessary are key words in getting what you need for a PWD. Fantastic to be able to have the choice.

I’d love to volunteer if that option is available, where do I go to make apply ??

I would never have been able to afford a school like this for my ASD child..So I had to fight for him from prep to grade 9 in the public system..I am exhausted. Maybe if this was not out of reach for nearly every parent then parents like me might not have to deal with their kids getting tortured at school every day and then having to deal with a suicidal teenager because the school would do nothing, or begging for funding just so they could have an extra teacher aid, or teachers that had no idea how to deal with my child…. Kinda makes you feel like a second class citizen when there is no way you could afford a spectacular school that know exactly how to deal with with autisic children, hello school developers…do a poll to see just how many families have special needs kids, maybe someone needs to build a public one, I would rather see a few built rather than a new stadium or whatever else the government want to waste their money on.