Education Leaders Responding to Special Education Needs

Broadcast date: 7 November 2020

Unique and individual needs

Unique and individual needs

Schools for learners with special educational needs are an important part of the education system, but the scope and depth of challenges they have faced during Covid-19 has been even greater than those faced by mainstream schools.

Special educational needs refer to a wide variety of disabilities, from intellectual disabilities, such as autism, to physical disabilities, such as blindness and deafness. In every case, different levels of assistance are required to help the learners concerned succeed. Some attend mainstream schools but have learning challenges that require concerted support, and some need specialised educational environments that can respond to their unique and individual needs.

Many special needs learners have found it difficult to understand and adapt to the changes in routine that the pandemic has caused, which has often resulted in anxiety, meltdowns and a regression in behaviour. The learners have missed connecting and interacting with their peers and teachers, and have had trouble adjusting to wearing masks and socially distancing.

Many schools and therapists have responded to this difficult experience by making adherence to Covid-19 protocols fun and exciting. At one primary school, learners have been taught to walk around with hula hoops to ensure that they remain apart, an activity they have found entertaining.

Other learners who have returned to school have slowly started to adapt to the new requirements: even blind learners have become accustomed to wearing masks, which affects their senses of smell and taste. Many teachers have observed an incredible resiliency in their learners, which is often born out of the learners’ desire to be at school rather than at home.

Of course, the ongoing support of parents during this time has been invaluable, and many schools have started to improve their technological infrastructure as a way of helping both parents and learners.

Read the blog about this topic here.

Making safety fun

Making safety fun

Education Leaders Responding to Special Education Needs podcast

Listen to Phepha uFunde episode ten in full here:

Leading in Uncertainty - Covid-19 - Phepha uFunde

Advisory sites

Department of Basic Education

Psychological Society of South Africa
South African Depression and Anxiety Group
World Health Organization
South African Coronavirus Resource Portal

National Department of Health

Seed Education Trust