The sixth article on integrating children with disabilities into inclusive classrooms focuses on the Screening, Identification, Assessment and Support policy
The Screening, Identification, Assessment and Support (SIAS) policy applied in South Africa standardises the procedures of identifying, assessing and providing programmes for all learners who require additional support to enhance their participation and inclusion in school. It is important that teachers are familiar with the Individual Support Action Plan (Individualised Education Plan).
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.
Determining support needs
Teachers and schools need to understand the individual support needs of all learners in their classrooms. This allows them to assess the level and extent of the support required, and to ensure the learners can participate. Key to this is identifying individual needs in relation to the home and the school context.
The process of enabling access and providing support requires the completion of various forms by both the teacher and other stakeholders. These forms assist in identifying and addressing the barriers to learning, and determine the roles and responsibilities of teachers, managers, district-based support teams and parents or caregivers.
The barriers to learning are the result of a broad range of experiences in the classroom and at home, and/or health conditions. They might include:
• Socio-economic aspects (for example, if a learner doesn’t have breakfast, it will impact their ability to learn);
• Factors that place learners at risk (for example, witnessing domestic abuse at home);
• Attitudes (stigma attached to certain conditions);
• Inflexible curriculum implementation;
• Language and communication;
• Inaccessible and unsafe structural environments (for example, lack of wheelchair ramps or accessible toilets);
• Inappropriate or inadequate provision of support services;
• Lack of parental recognition and involvement;
• Lack of human resource development strategies; and
• Unavailability of support materials and assistive technology.
In order to address such barriers, more equitable practices for school admission, support and funding are needed.
To implement this policy, the Department of Education acknowledges that teachers, managers, and provincial and district officials require training in the use of the policy, and that collaboration between government departments is critical in ensuring that services and support are aligned and integrated.
Dr Emma McKinney is a “children with disabilities” specialist, a post doctoral fellow at Stellenbosch University and owns a company called Disability Included. email: email@example.com