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.