Whole-school reading as intervention in a Gauteng primary school : a practitioner's intervention
KeywordsInclusive education - South Africa - Gauteng
Books and reading - South Africa - Gauteng
English language - Study and teaching (Primary) - South Africa
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AbstractD.Ed. (Educational Psychology)
The general preference for English as language of teaching and learning (LoLT) poses a formidable learning barrier to many English Second Language (ESL) learners in South African schools. Addressing this barrier is the responsibility of the whole-school with the support of the Department of Education. In particular, school based support teams (SBST) are tasked with the support of learners who experience reading barriers in an inclusive mainstream school. This thesis concerns the implementation of a whole-school intervention at a primary school in a disadvantaged community in Gauteng, South Africa, where ESL learners experience severe barriers to reading acquisition. The aim was to provide support to the whole-school to address reading barriers in an inclusive environment. Objectives were to identify the elements of whole-school reading; to develop and implement an integrated whole-school reading intervention; to train educators to address learners' reading barriers; and to provide guidelines to the Inclusion and Special Schools Unit (provincial level), District Based Support Team (DBST) and the school, to address reading barriers in future. A literature study reviewed themes regarding inclusion, support structures and whole-school development. Literature dealing with essential elements of wholeschool reading, approaches and strategies provided a theoretical framework for the implementation of whole-school reading. A qualitative study within an interpretive paradigm using practitioner action research was conducted. The research site was a primary school in a disadvantaged area in Gauteng, which had referred ESL learners to the local Inclusion and Special Schools Unit for support. Action research was selected because of its fundamental principle of participant empowerment through participation, collaboration, acquisition of knowledge and social change. Data was gathered from staff and learners and analysed during the phases of the action research process. Data collection included learner and educator questionnaires, discussions, observations, field notes, pre- and post baseline scholastic assessment, focus group interviews and the researcher's reflections. Findings indicated that SBST's need support in order to address reading barriers. ESL learners do not receive sufficient exposure to English to develop reading skills. Intermediate phase educators have not been trained to teach learners to read and improve their reading skills. Whole-school reading intervention was thus valuable in providing training and support structures for the school to address reading difficulties.