Accessing support for those who need it most

Continuing her series on integrating children with disabilities into inclusive classrooms in mainstream schools, Emma McKinney explains what a learner profile is and how teachers should complete this from to access support for learners who need it most

The last article focussed on the Screening, Identification, Assessment and Support (SIAS) policy and how it assists teachers to determine the support needs of learners and address barriers to learning and development. There are three differing stages in the process of SIAS and providing support to learners. Each is implemented at different levels of the system.

Every level also has a different focus of intervention. In this article, the aim is to provide teachers with an understanding of the first stage, which includes the initial screening, that is required and should be included.

Stage 1 – Initial screening guided by the learner profile

When any learner is admitted into the school, or at the start of a new phase (such as the foundation, intermediate or senior phase), their teacher is required to do a screening. The findings from this screening is included in each student’ s learner profile, which is known as a SNA 1 form.

There are several documents and reports that can help a teacher collect relevant information about each learner and record this in the SNA 1 form. These include:

  • The admission form which was completed when the learner applied to the school;
  • The Governments Road to Health booklet, which is very important for Grade R or foundation phase levels;
  • Any integrated school health programme reports, which includes, for example, ear and eye screening or gross and fine motor physical assessments;
  • End-of-year school reports, which will be found in the learner’s profile;
  • Reports from parents and other relevant stakeholders (for example, medical professionals, therapists, psychologist or community healthcare workers).

A learner profile should include any areas of concern as well as the student’s strengths and needs. This can refer to communication, learning, behaviour and social competence, health, wellness and personal care, classroom, school environment, family, home and community situation.

The report also should include any teacher intervention or support such as curriculum intervention (different content, modified assessments or teaching methods), and any other interventions, for example, changes to the physical or learning environment and a log of any parent, caregiver or learner meetings.

To assist teachers, an asterix (*) is included at specific questions in the SNA 1 form or learner profile that are important sections or information. For example, the section on whether the child has a disability, receive a social grant, early intervention services are being rendered and the areas where the child needs support.

The information collated by teachers in the learner profile is vital to the second stage of the SIAS process, which address the school-based support team (SBST)’s responsibilities around assessments and interventions. The next article will take a closer look at this.


Dr Emma McKinney is a lecturer at the University of the Western Cape. She is also the owner of Disability Included, a company specialising in disability research, children, and employment of adults with disabilities.
email: emma@disabilityincluded.co.za

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