Sunnybank School Campus Redevelopment
In 2018 a masterplan for the Autism Queensland Sunnybank Hills site was developed to ensure viable redevelopment across the state for the next 20 years.
The school campus redevelopment was identified as the first and most urgent priority due to an increased demand by families for access to appropriate and supportive schooling for their children with autism, as well as identification of the need for extensive supports for students on the spectrum with additional comorbid conditions, often beyond the capacity of the students’ local school.
Students supported by this campus come from Brisbane’s southern and western suburbs as well as from the bayside & Redland areas, Ipswich, Logan and Gold Coast.
The Autism Queensland School pedagogical framework states we have an undertaking to work towards an environment in which student learning styles are considered and barriers to curriculum access are addressed.
Evidence-informed practice advocates for a learning environment for our students that is safe, least restrictive, values relationships, is strengths-based and utilises students’ learning and sensory preferences.
Our capacity to achieve this is impacted by the physical environment of ageing facilities and buildings that have received no major upgrades or refurbishments since they were built in 1966-67. This environment also impacts both on students’ engagement and student and staff safety.
Inclusive education for students with ASD is a complex process requiring collaborative relationships and partnerships, responsive planning, and creative supports.
Evidence-informed strategies and adjustments within Autism Queensland School consider the impact of ASD on each student and their barriers to curriculum access.
The priority areas of the school redevelopment are:
- Refurbishment of four learning spaces into a purpose-built Prep facility (completed).
- Refurbishment of the junior school block to create larger classrooms with flexible learning spaces and new amenities
- Refurbishment of the Administration Block to provide additional small group and individual teaching spaces for students, teacher resource facilities for staff and therapists, and conversion of bathrooms to accessible amenities.
The junior school and administration buildings in Projects are adjoining, therefore the refurbishments as outlined will benefit students accessing the school and enable Autism Queensland teaching and therapy staff to better support them and optimise their learning outcomes.
- Increased enrolments at the school (In 2019, enrolments at the Sunnybank Hills campus are at an all-time high of 79. Of this cohort 67 are in primary (Prep-Year 6) age groups, and 18 attend the school full time across the groups Prep to Year 3. While enrolment numbers may appear small, this is because students are grouped in classes of a maximum of six, supported by a teacher, at least one teacher aide and with additional support from allied health professionals.)
- Capacity to support significantly greater numbers of families and schools who are managing students with complex educational needs
- A highly effective, research-informed school environment that optimises learning for students on the autism spectrum
- An environment where learning spaces are adaptable/ flexible/, predictable, safe and non-threatening, and in which sensory distractions are minimized.
- Modern teaching facilities enhancing the capacity of teaching staff to deliver outcomes in accordance with the school’s pedagogical framework.
Autism Queensland has secured funding for approximately 50 percent of the overall project cost through the Queensland Independent Schools Block Grant Authority.
Stage 1, the Prep facility, is completed with Autism Queensland meeting the funding gap internally. It now seeks to raise the funds necessary to complete the remainder of the project through other grant sources and donations.
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