Support needs: initial screening

Emma McKinney
By Emma McKinney
4 Min Read

There are several steps involved in assessing the additional support needs of all learners, and especially those with disabilities. Emma McKinney takes a closer look

In 2014 the South African Department of Basic Education published the Screening, Identification, Assessment and Support policy framework, which standardises the procedures to identify, assess and provide programmes for all learners who require additional support. Its aim is to enhance their participation and inclusion in school.

The policy includes a protocol and official forms that need to be completed by the teachers, the school-based support teams (SBST) and the district-based support teams. The rationale of the policy has three areas: Determining the support needs of all learners; addressing barriers to learning and development; and implementing the policy in the short term.

In the next series of articles, each area will be discussed. Stage one is the initial screening guide by the learner profile, which has three elements.

Screening all learners

Every learner admitted to the school and at the start of each phase (foundation, intermediate and senior phase) should be screened by the teacher. The educator records the findings in the learner profile (Appendix A of the policy). The process of capturing this information is known as the learner unit record and tracking system, and replaces the previous learner profiles.

Documentation required

Information about the learner can be gathered through the following documents:

• Application forms completed by the parents;

• The Road to Health booklet completed by health practitioners (particularly important for Grade R and foundation phase);

• Integrated school health programme reports for learners who indicated vulnerability and need to access health and learning support interventions, which are completed by the school health team;

• Year-end school reports;

• Reports from parents and professionals providing support, such as occupational therapists, psychologists and social workers; and

• Current reports by the teachers currently involved with the learner.

Support-need assessment

The sections of the learner profile that contain asterisks indicate when the completion of a support-needs assessment (SNA 1) form should be completed, which is usually the responsibility of the class teacher or the teacher tasked with being the case manager supported by the SBST. Usually the learner requires support from the beginning.

For example, this could include learners with physical disabilities for whom additional health and disability assessment forms should be completed. The SNA 1 form is also completed for learners who have additional support needs as identified in their learner profile.

In the following article, we will look at the contents of the SNA 1 form and what information teachers need to include when completing it, including assessments and interventions. While this information will be aimed at assisting teachers, it is also useful for parents and caregivers to understand these processes to ensure their children are fully supported and receive the assistance they require.

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Emma McKinney
By Emma McKinney Children with Disabilities Specialist
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Dr Emma McKinney is a “children with disabilities” specialist, a post doctoral fellow at Stellenbosch University and owns a company called Disability Included.
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