Chapter 4



4.4.1Legislative and Policy Framework


  • The South African Schools Act, No. 84 of 1996 [SASA]
  • Education White Paper 6 Special Needs Education: Building an Inclusive Education and Training System (2001) Proclaimed as National Policy in 2001 (Government Gazette No. 22524, 27 July 2001) [WP 6]



  • Policy on the Screening, Identification, Assessment and Support as published in Government Gazette No. 38356 of 19 December 2014 [SIAS]
  • White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2015 [WP RPD]
  • Education White Paper 6 Special Needs Education: Building an Inclusive Education and Training System (2001) Proclaimed as National Policy in 2001 (Government Gazette No. 22524, 27 July 2001) [WP 6]



  • Guidelines for responding to learner diversity in the classroom through curriculum assessment and policy statements [NG DCA]
  • Guidelines for Full Service/Inclusive Schools (2010) [NG FSS]
  • Guidelines to ensure quality education and support in Special Schools and Special Schools as Resource Centres [NG QES]
  • Procedural Manual for the assessment of learners who experience barriers to assessment from Gr R to 12 (September 2016) [NG BAR]
  • Guidelines for Inclusive Teaching and Learning June 2010 [NG IE]

4.4.2Framework for the Development of School Policy on Inclusive Education

  1. Inclusive education can be explained best by comparing it to mainstreaming. In mainstreaming the emphasis is on helping learners with special needs to fit into the system for ‘normal’ learners. Inclusive education focuses on overcoming barriers in the system that prevents it from meeting the full range of learners’ needs. (White Paper 6, Page 17).
  2. The organising principle or the Screening, Identification and Support process is that every child should have the right to receive quality basic education and support within his or her local community (SIAS, Page 15). The policy advocates a shift from a system where learners are referred to another specialised setting other than the school nearest to their home where a request is made for assistance to be delivered at the current school.
  3. Every learner has a right to receive reasonable accommodation in an inclusive setting. Reasonable measures must be taken to ensure that a child with a disability can have access to an inclusive, quality and free primary education, and secondary education on an equal basis with others in the communities in which they live (SIAS, Page 10, 13 & 15).
  4. Learners with special educational needs do the same curriculum as all other learners but the curriculum is adapted in terms of methodology, pace, time allocation and assessment to accommodate these learners. The balance between the components of the curriculum can be changed in terms of emphasis and time allocation.
  5. If the needs of learners with special needs are of such a nature that the required support cannot be provided in the ordinary class environment, such learners must be given access to additional support (SIAS, Page 18).
  6. If the needs for support exceed the support which the school is able to provide, the learners must be referred to a school that is equipped to cater for learners who are experiencing that specific kind of impairment (school for specialised education).
  7. The SIAS Policy provides clear guidelines on enrolling learners in special schools and settings which also acknowledge the central role played by parents and teachers. The Policy includes a protocol as well as a set of official forms to be used by teachers, School-Based Support Teams and District-Based Support Teams in the process of screening, identifying and assessing barriers experienced by learners.
  8. The White Paper specifies the following support mechanisms and structures for learners who are experiencing special educational needs:
    • School-Based Support Teams (SBST)
    • All schools are required to establish School-Based Support Teams (SBSTs). These teams have to provide co-ordinated learner and educator support services within the school by identifying and addressing learner, educator and institutional needs (e.g. a learner who requires additional support). The SBSTs are supported by district support teams.
    • District-Based Support Teams (DBSTs) (initially one team in each of 30 selected districts across the country)
    • District-Based Support Teams (DBSTs) support the SBSTs in providing illustrative learning programmes, learner support materials and equipment, assessment instruments and professional support for educators. They will build the capacity of the institutions to recognise and address learning difficulties and provide additional support. Staff from district, regional and head office and from special schools, including therapists and social workers serves on the DBSTs.
    • Full-service schools (initially one school per each of the 30 selected districts)
    • A full-service school is a primary school which has been converted and equipped with the necessary physical, material and human resources to accommodate the diverse range of learning needs. These schools are meant to expand provision and access to disabled learners within neighbourhood schools.
    • Resource centres (initially one centre per each of the 30 selected districts)
    • Resource centres are special schools that are upgraded to resource centres with specially trained staff and with two main responsibilities:
      • To provide improved educational services to specified learner populations; and
      • To provide specialised professional support to full-service and other neighbourhood schools.
  9. Some provinces allow or even encourage schools to make use of aid classes. However, the point of departure when a learner is moved from a mainstream class to an aid class or any other form of additional support should always be to manage it as a temporary intervention with the intention to return the learner to the mainstream class as soon as sufficient progress has been made.
  10. Some schools even introduce a separate “stream” for learners with special needs, but again with the intention to return learners to the mainstream once they demonstrate sufficient progress.
  11. Schools in rural areas in particular can in this way address the plight of learners who would otherwise have to be sent to special schools with hostel facilities, often far away from home.

4.4.3Guidelines for the Development of School Policy on Inclusive Education

  1. The school’s policy should:
    • Spell out clearly the school’s position concerning the admission and accommodation of learners who are experiencing barriers to learning (learners with special educational needs);
    • Determine the composition and functioning of the School-Based Support Team (SBST);
    • Provide guidelines on ways in which the curriculum can be adapted to accommodate learners with special needs (or provide an adapted curriculum);
    • Specify ways in which assessment instruments should be adapted to assist learners with special needs; and
    • Specify the procedures to be followed to give learners with learning barriers/special needs access to additional support.
  2. In addition to the protocol outlined in the SIAS Policy, the following additional documents provide further guidance on specific matters to be addressed by the school’s policy:
    • Reference List C (IESP): Planning an individual and additional education and support plan (IESP)
    • Reference List C (PARENTS): Discussions with parents
    • Reference List C (GIFTED): Providing for the gifted learner in a system for inclusive education
  3. For guidance on concessions see Chapter 4.6.


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