Perspectives in Education

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Exploring the changing role of learning support teachers in the Western Cape, South Africa

LM Dreyer


The South African education system is continuously changing and adapting to address the challenges to provide access, equal and quality education in a new democratic dispensation. One such challenge is the way in which learning support is provided to learners who struggle in mainstream classrooms. The department of education opted for a systemic approach to learning support services. The Western Cape Education Department (WCED), in particular, adopted a learning support model which reflects the changed role of learning support teachers. Research confirms that the role of learning support teachers is more comprehensive and complex within an inclusive education system. Learning support teachers in South Africa (like their counterparts across the world) have their roots in the individualised medical paradigm. Therefore, as key role players in establishing inclusive education in schools, learning support teachers are currently faced with the challenge to make a paradigmatic shift from the traditional narrow focus towards addressing learning support systemically.

This article explores the experiences of learning support teachers in a district of the WCED as they engage and adapt in their new role as part of a collaborative team addressing barriers to learning systemically within a whole school approach

Keywords: South African education system, access, equity, quality, democratic, Western Cape Education Department (WCED), learning support model, inclusive education system, collaborative, systemic approach

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