Mancel College: Four Decades of Providing Support to Children With a Language Disorder

Language disorder affects a person’s comprehension and/or ability to express one’s thoughts and feelings. The condition is estimated to affect 1 in 10 Australian students per classroom. Currently, Fig Tree Pocket-based Mancel College is the only specialist school in Australia that caters to students with such a condition.

Mancel College traces its roots back to its founder, pioneering psychologist Mancel Ellis Robinson. Her work at the University of Queensland identified the lack of appropriate services and educational facilities for children living with “communication and learning problems”.

She continued her research work and began to develop new teaching methods and therapies so these children could be provided access to education.

Mancel College: Four Decades of Providing Support to Children With a Language Disorder
Photo credit:  Mancel College /

She established CHI.L.D Association in 1976, a voluntary organisation and registered charity that caters for children and young people with language and related disorders. In 1977, CHI.L.D. established its home at the undercroft of the Anglican Church in St Lucia, supporting 18 children aged between 5 and 8, before relocating to the former Fig Tree Pocket State School site in Cubberla Street in 1978.

The Cubberla site allowed the program to accommodate 22 children, utilising a single-room schoolhouse and a donated demountable building. The learning facility was later named the Glenleighden School.

Mancel College: Four Decades of Providing Support to Children With a Language Disorder
Photo credit:  Mancel College /

The Glenleighden School earned government approval in 1982 and then received government funding as an officially recognised non-state special school the following year. Through the help of community fundraising and state and federal grants, the school further expanded with additional classrooms and therapy spaces.

Mancel continued to run the school until her retirement in 2002. CHI.L.D was changed to Speech and Language Development (SALDA) in 2016.

The organisation took ownership of the school building at the Fig Tree Pocket site in 1984 for $1,500 but it was not until 2019 that the SALDA board decided to acquire the land it has occupied, allowing it to implement its Campus Master Plan for the school which includes the redevelopment of the premises. The first stage of its redevelopment commenced in 2021.

In 2022, The Glenleighden School was renamed Mancel College, marking the 20th anniversary of Mancel’s retirement and cementing his legacy in the field of Language Disorder for generations to come. That same year SALDA was renamed Language Disorder Australia Ltd.

Today, Mancel College continues to attract students from across the country, providing support and resources specifically targeting the needs of Prep and Year 12 students with a language disorder. 

To make it possible, a team of multi-disciplinary teachers and allied health professionals collaborate to plan and deliver the lessons with each class averaging 12 students and supported by a school assistant. 

Published 7-March-2023

Fig Tree Pocket School for Young People With Language Disorders Continues Expansion

This pioneering Fig Tree Pocket school for children and young people with language disorders is undergoing a major expansion to accommodate an ever-growing enrolment.

Located in Fig Tree Pocket, Mancel College is a specialist Prep to year 12 school operated by Language Disorder Australia. The school is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar upgrade under a seven-stage masterplan which will allow it to expand its capacity, as well as its range of programs and offerings in the curriculum and co-curricular space.

The master plan will deliver new buildings, a rooftop pool, science facilities, a sports hall, and a creative design room. The first of the classroom buildings to be built at the school was completed and opened in November 2022.

Another building is set to rise at the site and will contain more senior school classrooms, a large teaching area for industrial technologies, and a specialist food and hospitality teaching space along with a 20m rooftop pool and changing facilities.

Australia’s Specialised School for Young People With Language Disorder Continues Expansion
Photo Credit: Facebook / Mancel College

There is also a brand new adventure playground for students from 5 years old to 18 years old built at the school as part of its upgrade. The accessible playground will offer a range of opportunities for physical activities across three levels and will feature a big spiral slide. 

The seven-stage master plan is expected to be finished by 2027 when enrollment is projected to have reached around 300.

In July 2022, Glenleighden School rebranded and was officially named Mancel College in honour of its founder, Mancel Ellis Robinson OAM who established CHI.L.D Association and the School more than four decades ago.  

To help young people with Language Disorders achieve their full potential, therapists work side by side with specialist teachers using their clinical expertise, skills, and knowledge in evidence-based practice. These help them identify and address the challenges that hinder their student’s learning.