Western suburbs P-12 autism school plan takes shape

LAVERTON P-12 College principal Neil Sproal yesterday visited an autism school at Wantirna in Melbourne's east as plans take shape for a prep-to-year12 autism school for Melbourne's western suburbs.

The western school will cater for children from Hobsons Bay, the City of Melbourne, Maribyrnong, Brimbank, Melton, Moonee Valley and Wyndham.

Mr Sproal said $4million state government funding to complete the redevelopment of the Laverton mainstream school might have been a decade away had the Education Department not proposed co-locating a new autism school on the mainstream college's Bladin Street campus.

As reported by the Weekly, $4million promised to Western Autistic School at Niddrie in last year's budget was last week redirected to building a new autism school at Laverton.

Laverton P-12 College opened in 2008 after Laverton Secondary College merged with Laverton and Laverton Plains primary schools, and an entirely new school was built.

Mr Sproal said the Education Department had approached him with the idea of building a new prep-to-year12 autism school at his school.

"They were looking at various locations across the western region and they approached me and said, 'Look, would you consider having the facility located on the site of the old Laverton Secondary College'," he said.

"I said, I think the community would support it if it meant all the old buildings were demolished and the things that were in our original plan of redevelopment - a new gymnasium and new sports field - were included in the project."

Mr Sproal said the building that was formerly Laverton Secondary College had at times housed up to 800 students.

Its demolition will make way for Laverton College's new oval and, most likely, the new autism school will front the corner of Bladin and Jennings streets.

"There's absolutely no discussion taking place about co-use of facilities or any of those sorts of things, and there's actually no discussion about how the new school will be governed or any of those sorts of issues," Mr Sproal said.

Western Autistic's Laverton school caters for children in prep to year 3.

"As well, they've got the autism teaching institute there so it's the location where people who are studying autism come from all over the state," Mr Sproal added.

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