The first thing you notice about the new Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) school campus at Loftus is just how calming it is.
Soft green walls and pastel classrooms that have been specifically designed to support the needs of children on the autism spectrum and provide a soothing sensory environment.
“What you don’t see is just how traumatic the birth of the school has been,” laughs Executive Director Education for Aspect, Maryanne Gosling, “I am just so pleased to see it finally opening up to students.”
“Lack of funding, unexpected endangered species, wild weather, and then COVID-19 have all played a role in a delayed opening, but in early February this year we finally welcomed 36 students on the autism spectrum aged from 5 – 12 years to their new school, which has been designed to meet their needs, and the needs of a growing autism community.
“Our classes are purposefully small to cater for the needs of each individual student, with the aim of helping them to make the transition to a mainstream school down the track.
“Unfortunately there is a critical lack of affordable specialist autism-specific education services for children on the autism spectrum in Sydney, with an average wait list of 2 years to attend an Aspect School in Sydney, more than 400 children on our school waitlist, 154 of who live in South Sydney, and no high school base in the Southern Sydney region.
“To date the new Loftus campus has taken 3 years and cost over $3million,” Ms Gosling said, “And with just six small school classrooms to cater for 36 students, a teacher and a teacher’s aide - the reality is we could use several more of these schools in Sydney – not to mention regional areas.”
Ms Gosling went on to say that the new Loftus School was only made possible by the significant generosity of our funding partners Aberdeen Standard Investments Australia and Goodridge Foundation – who immediately connected with the vision and understood the impact that the new school would bring to students and their families for years to come.
“As an independent school we are often reliant on funding support from businesses and the community. The Loftus School has been significantly supported by Aberdeen and Goodridge, who has shown an amazing dedication to providing the very best opportunities for students on the autism spectrum.”
Ranthir Sundravel from Aberdeen Standard Investments (ASI), Charity Forum Australia, congratulated the Aspect team on the launch of the new Loftus campus, saying “ASI has been proudly supporting Aspect since 2012 and we are delighted to play a part in the significant contribution Aspect makes to enhance the lives of those in the autism community.”
Nora Goodridge, OAM, from the Goodridge Foundation said it is was the aim of their organisation to make a difference in people’s lives, whether in education, music, homelessness or disability.
“It gives us great pleasure to be able to contribute to making a difference to lives of the children and families who will attend this wonderful new Loftus facility,” Ms Goodridge said, “And we wish them all a bright and happy future.”