The exploration of the management strategies used by educators working with learners presenting with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptoms in mainstream schools in the Western Cape
The inclusive education system in South Africa is one that accepts children with many types of barriers to learning, whether these are physical, emotional or cognitive in nature. In 2001, the Department of Education published the White Paper 6 in order to address inclusive education in the South African context over a time frame of 20 years. It has been 15 years since the White Paper 6 was published, and many South African educators still face the same challenges as they did at the start of the Inclusive Education System. Managing children with barriers to learning comes with many challenges and uncertainties, and with the high prevalence of children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) globally, there is a strong need to understand what the condition entails and how to manage it effectively. A study like this is imperative in order to explore management strategies used by Grade 1 educators when working with learners presenting with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder symptoms in mainstream schools in the Western Cape. A further aim is to explore the support structures currently available to these educators as well as the support required by these educators. The study also aims to understand the challenges facing educators in these settings as there are limited research studies and literature available which focus on how to apply the inclusive education policies that exist in South Africa. The study used bio-ecological systems theory as a theoretical framework. A qualitative approach was used to conduct the study, including semi-structured individual interviews and data that was analysed by thematic analysis. A total of four local schools were included in the study, comprising of twelve interviews with Grade 1 educators from mainstream schools based in the Western Cape. The findings were as follows: many educators felt that they did not receive enough training on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, therefore lacking knowledge on how to apply management strategies to address this. Managing a diverse range of learners, lack of resources, lack of parental involvement, lack of assistance in the classroom, as well as distracted and disorganised children posed as challenges for educators working with learners presenting with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder symptoms. Some educators felt that class sizes were too big; helping non-English learners who displayed symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder to reach their full potential was challenging; and covering all the content in the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) was overwhelming for some as it does not always allow space for learners who learn differently in the classroom. Educators teaching in lower-income communities struggled with parental support and generally had fewer resources available to them. Not all of the participants received sufficient support from other professional health practitioners, principals, and support at various levels of the education system in the Western Cape and Department of Education.