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Inclusion in educationPerceptions of South African teachers on how they feel supported in teaching learners with special educational needs.

By Nozwelo Shanda, Master of Public Health; Jane Kelly, Master of Psychological Research; Associate Professor Judith McKenzie, PhD Humanities

Despite policy commitment, there has been slow progress towards achieving quality education for learners with special educational needs in South Africa. One of the main reasons for this being that teachers do not feel adequately supported in addressing the different and diverse educational needs of these learners (Engelbrecht, Oswald, Swart, & Eloff, 2003; Statistics South Africa, 2011). In this paper we explore the perceptions of teachers in how they feel supported in teaching learners with special educational needs.

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Journal coverKelly, J. F., McKinney, E. L., & Swift, O. (2020). Strengthening teacher education to support deaf learners. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 1-19.

Deaf learners are among the most disadvantaged when it comes to educational outcomes in South Africa. The aim of this paper, therefore, is to explore the educational needs of learners who are deaf and use the findings as a basis from which to strengthen their education. This research employed a qualitative research design, drawing on interviews with deaf learners, teachers, school management team members (SMTs) and parents. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Findings reveal that deaf learners have significant difficulty in communicating with their teachers, and that teachers of the deaf in South Africa are not sufficiently trained to understand the educational needs of their learners. Recommendations regarding the strengthening of training for teachers of the deaf are made.

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Reconceptualising teacher education for teachers of learners with severe to profound disabilities
Judith McKenzie , Jane Kelly , Trevor Moodley & Sindiswa Stofile

This paper considers teacher education for teachers of learners with severe to profound disabilities (SPD) in South Africa, in both formal and non-formal learning programmes within a disability studies in education framework. Qualitative data were collected from a range of education stakeholders including non-governmental (NGOs) and disabled people organisations (DPOs). Based on a thematic analysis, findings show limited pre-service teacher education programmes focused on teaching learners with SPD. In-service teacher training through education departments and NGOs and DPOs, is usually through basic short courses or workshops and are not
complemented by on-going support. We argue for a reconceptualization of teacher education in South Africa to prepare teachers to meet the diverse needs of learners, including those with SPDs within an inclusive education context. Skills in addressing barriers to learning should be infused throughout initial teacher education, in line with the principles of universal design for learning while impairment-specific knowledge can be offered in related modules that focus on reasonable accommodation for children with disabilities. In-service education can occur in formal and informal programmes and should empowers teachers to become lifelong learners.

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Family–teacher partnerships: families’ and teachers’ experiences of working together to support learners with disabilities in South Africa
Judith McKenzie , Nozwelo Shanda and Heather Michelle Aldersey

Family and teacher partnerships have an important role to play in the education of learners with disabilities. The South African Schools Act of 1996 has made provision for families to play a pivotal role in the school governing body, whether their child has a disability or not. National and international research shows that strong family–teacher partnerships improve children’s academic performance as well as the family’s quality of life. This study explores families’ and teachers’ co-operative experiences of supporting learners with disabilities in special and full-service schools in South Africa. Data were drawn from 39 individual interviews with teachers and five focus group discussions with 27 family members of learners with disabilities. The findings show both positive and negative interactive experiences regarding communication, extending learning from school to home, power dynamics and advocacy, and commitment. Consideration of these aspects will contribute to improving education for learners with disabilities.

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