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Admissions Criteria

Vera School is a public school under the auspices of the Western Cape Education Department (WCED). The school makes specific provision for learners with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) between the ages of six and eighteen. Admission is based on the outcome of an observation period by a WCED multi-disciplinary team, careful review by and final approval of the WCED, and the availability of suitable space in the school. The duration of the observation period is determined by the WCED. An observation period at the school will be arranged, if the child’s permanent place of residence falls within Vera School’s catchment area, the necessary referral pathway has been followed and a screening interview has been completed. These regulations are set out by the WCED and are strictly adhered to.

The primary requirement for admission is a diagnosis of ASD and level of support required. The best interests of the child and that of other learners already in school, as well as the required levels of support are taken into account, when a child is being considered for admission.

The following criteria are carefully considered when a child comes for an observation period. Admission is based on the child’s ability to join an age-appropriate group and comply with the majority of the following criteria:

  • present with emerging or basic joint attention skills

  • demonstrate motivation at some level for learning

  • have imitation skills

  • have basic self-help skills

  • display some communicative intent

  • be able to function in a group setting

  • work at some level without being prompt-dependent

  • not require one-on-one level of support for all learning, i.e. be independent for periods of time that do not require the teacher/assistant’s constant supervision 

  • not be a danger to themselves or others in their environment

  • not negatively impact the rest of the learners in the classroom (through verbal or physical aggression)

  • be physically able to defend themselves (i.e. not vulnerable)

  • not interfere with the learning of peers due to extreme and unmanageable hypo-activity or hyperactivity

Admissions Process

The following procedures are followed across the Western Cape to place children with ASD in a school:


Step 1 - Referral by a professional

A child needing placement in a public school that provides education for learners with ASD, has to be referred to the Western Cape Education Department’s Autism Spectrum Disorder (WCED ASD) database. A WCED ASD referral form needs to be completed by a professional in the field of health, education or social services and sent to the WCED ASD database. The WCED ASD outreach team manages this centralised database. Learners on the database will be allocated to a school according to the geographical area in which they live.

The following schools cater for learners with ASD:

  • Alpha (Woodstock)

  • Beacon (Mitchells Plain)

  • Chere Botha (Bellville)

  • Herbert Street school (Bellville)

  • Dorothea (Stellenbosch)

  • Filia (Goodwood)

  • Glenbridge (Plumstead)

  • Langerug (Worcester)

  • Ligstraal (Paarl)

  • Noluthando (Khayelitsha)

  • Vera (Rondebosch East)

  • Bel Porto (Rondebosch East)

  • Mary Harding (Athlone)

  • Robin Hill (Atlantis)

  • Rusthof (Strand)

  • Carpe Diem (George)

  • Karitas (Vredenburg)


Only children who live in Vera School’s catchment areas, as stipulated by the WCED, will be considered for admission

Before a child is allocated to a school, all enquiries can be referred to the WCED ASD outreach team.


If you wish to refer a child to the WCED ASD Database for school placement follow these steps:


1. Download the WCED ASD Referral Form using this link: WCED ASD Referral Form

    (PLEASE NOTE - Parents may not complete and submit this form, the form has to be completed by a health or      education or social work professional)

2. Complete the referral form and attach the necessary documents


3. Send the referral form and documents to:


Step 2: A Screening Interview (SI)

Children of school-going age who are not in a school will be prioritised for a screening interview (SI). After a child has been allocated to a school by the WCED ASD outreach team, the respective school will contact the caregivers of the child and arrange a SI. During the SI, the child will be observed by two staff members, while parents are interviewed by another professional staff member. This takes approximately an hour.

Once the interview is completed, the interviewer and the staff who observed the child will meet to discuss their findings. If the child appears to be a possible candidate for the school, based on features of ASD observed and reported during the SI an observation period will be recommended. As it could be a while before the child is invited for an observation period, due to the number of children on the WCED ASD Database, it is not possible to provide an exact date for the observation period at the SI. Parents will only be contacted once a date for the observation period can be confirmed by the school. A few recommendations regarding interim interventions are made at the SI.

If the child is not found to be a suitable candidate, the team will provide recommendations to the parents and the findings of the SI will be forwarded to the ASD programme manager, who is based at the WCED head office (HO).


Step 3: Observation Period at the School

Due to the number of learners on the database of ASD schools, it cannot be guaranteed when the child will start the observation period. Older children and those who have been on the database for a longer period of time, are prioritised. The school where the observation period will take place, is determined by the child’s residential address and whether the school has a full multi-disciplinary team.

During the observation period at an ASD school the child will be placed in a class and will follow the school’s routine. The main purpose of the observation period is to determine the most appropriate placement of the child in an educational setting. During the observation, formal assessments and clinical observation are done by the school’s multi-disciplinary team which includes teachers, therapists and psychologists. At the end of the observation period, the team will discuss their findings. The child’s case will then be discussed at a quarterly WCED sifting meeting, after which feedback will be given to parents in a formal meeting. The diagnosis of ASD does not necessarily guarantee placement at an ASD school as it depends on the level of support needed by the child. The observation period determines the levels of support required as well as what the most suitable placement for the child’s development would be.

If the multi-disciplinary team does not find the child to be a suitable candidate for the school, alternative interventions are recommended where possible. All reports of such a child will be forwarded to the ASD programme manager at the WCED HO. The programme manager will support the child and parents further. If the child is found to be a suitable candidate for a school, their name will be placed on the waiting list for admission. The child will be admitted to the school as soon as a space in a suitable class becomes available. 

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