The school in Palmyra Road 1970
21 Muswell Hill Road 1974
Andrew Clark Home, Plumstead 1976
Current school premisis, 20 Anglesey Road, Rondebosch east
Vera School History
In January 1970, the Society for Autistic Children (founded in 1966) started a school for learners with autism in a prefabricated building in Claremont. The school was called the Cape Town Day School for Autistic Children, with Margaret Golding as the first principal and Bernice Lieberman as her right hand. The school started with 6 learners. Support services were provided by Professor Vera Grover and Dr M Vera Buhrmann, a child psychiatrist and Vice-Chairman of the Society. The school was the first school for learners with autism to be established in the Southern Hemisphere.
The school initially had no access to transport, but in 1972 Durbanville Round Table donated a minibus to the school. The number of children in the school increased steadily and accommodation became problematic. The situation was temporarily alleviated by the donation of a prefabricated building by Barclays Bank.
Following requests to the government, the Act dealing with handicapped children was amended to include those children diagnosed with autism, and in July 1973 the school received support from the Department of National Education in the form of teachers’ salaries.
By 1974 it was clear that the facilities at Palmyra Road were not sufficient to accommodate the growing number of learners anymore, and the school moved to a double-story house in Muswell Hill Road. During this time the need for hostel facilities increased. Hostel facilities would not only extend the school’s daily program, but would also offer respite to many families. Randhoeve, a beautiful old house in Plumstead, was identified as a suitable building and the Society fought hard to get the necessary funds to run the hostel facility. The Andrew Clarke hostel was established and the first resident was admitted in 1976.
At the end of 1978, after guiding the school from the beginning and doing an enormous amount of work in bringing an understanding of ASD to the general public, Margaret Golding left the school. In 1979, Marinus van Rooyen became the new principal. In the same year the school’s name was changed to Vera School in recognition of Dr. Vera Buhrman and Prof. Vera Grover’s contribution to the field of ASD.
In 1982, the present school buildings were completed and in May 1983 it was officially opened. Now that the school has settled in its’ final home the buildings have made and continue to make a real contribution to the quality of the learners lives. Many new additions have been made with the support of the community and other organisations.