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Vera School was founded in 1970. It is the oldest of only five Autism Specific Government schools in South Africa, making provision for learners with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Autism is a severe, life long, developmental disability of neurobiological cause.
The school is situated on a 1,5 hectare piece of land in the residential suburb of Rondebosch East. It was the first school in the world custom built for learners on the Autism Spectrum as there is inter alia a hostel for 35 learners on the same premises. The school is a public school functioning under the auspices of the Western Cape Education Department (WCED). The school receives an annual state subsidy and our 145 learners pay school fees. The school accounts are audited every year. Unfortunately, the income from these sources falls far short of the financial resources needed to develop the school optimally.
Learners with ASD need specialised and intensive treatment and education. There is a favourable response to early intervention. An individualised learning programme, compiled by a trans-professional team, renders the optimum results. After treatment, a number of learners can be phased into other specialised or mainstream schools where they can function and progress with less, but informed support. Learners who remain at Vera until the end of the year, in which they turn 18, have a severe form of Autism Spectrum Disorder. As the education and treatment of learners with ASD are regarded internationally as the most demanding, a high teacher-learner ratio is essential. The full staff complement at Vera is 74.
The Department of Education acknowledges the need for the high staff-learner ratio and allocates more staff to Vera in relation to other schools. The allocation, however, is not enough and Vera has to spend the largest part of the budget on salaries in order to maintain the present effective staff complement. There are no funds for crucial autism specific staff training or for developing facilities at the school. We rely on fundraising to attain these goals.
Vera is regarded as a specialist resource centre in the field of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Teachers in mainstream, as well as other professionals, consult us for information, support and guidance. Over the past 4 years we have been closely involved in establishing units for learners with Autism in Khayelitsha, Bellville, Mitchells Plain, Paarl and Diep River. Regular workshops are offered by the Vera staff for teachers in ordinary schools who have learners with milder forms of Autism in their classes. These sessions take place either at Vera or off campus.
Operates in: Cape Town, Western Cape
Established in: 1970
Non-Profit Organisation Number: 014-912
Public Benefit Organisation Number:
Section 21 Company Number:
Contact person: Anita Reed
Phone: 021 696 2844
Fax: 086 629 6661
Physical address: 20 Anglesey Road, Rondebosch East
Postal address: Private Bag X4, Clareinch, 7740
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