Plans have been unveiled for the expansion of the Western Suburbs State Special School in Durack to cater to an additional 60 students.
The seven-phase project (MID-1123-0745) highlights the construction of new facilities, classrooms, elevators, and parking spaces.
Despite being designed for only 186 students, Western Suburbs State Special School (WSSS), one of Brisbane’s leading special schools, currently serves 193 students ranging from Prep to Year 12.
Projections indicate that the school, which does not limit enrolments based on catchment areas, could see its student population reach 209 in the next three years.
The proposed expansion aims to provide space for up to 252 students and allow for an increase in staff from the current 90 to 114. The development’s primary goal is to address functionality challenges in the school’s senior student cohort, specifically in buildings within the F Block area, which were originally introduced to the site when state special schools did not need to cater to students with physical impairments.
Stage 1 of the expansion involves the construction of a new building, block R, with 14 classrooms and administration facilities. It also includes the development of a 68-space carpark, a 20-space carpark near the administration building, lifts, ramps, demolition of block F, and the establishment of a new bus drop-off/pick-up zone.
Stage 2 focuses on renovating block A to create two new classrooms and redeveloping block E into a new library. The subsequent stages include the construction of a new hall with therapy areas, improved accessibility features such as stairs, ramps, and lifts, relocation of existing greenhouses and horticultural sheds, demolition of block F, refurbishment of block A to accommodate two new classes and a new library, and the creation of outdoor learning spaces and play areas. Blocks G, J, K, and L will be demolished, while blocks B and C will undergo renovation or reconstruction.
This expansion comes amid discussions following the Disability Royal Commission’s recommendation last October 2023 for a 30-year phase-out of special education and a halt on new special school developments from 2025. The recommendation, which aims to integrate students with disabilities into mainstream schools, has raised concerns among Queensland’s educational sectors. The State Government is currently reviewing this proposal.
The project is now subject to public review, with submissions accepted until 16 February 2024. Look for MID-1123-0745 on the planning site.
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