The South African education system is continuously changing and adapting to address the challenges
to provide access, equal and quality education in a new democratic dispensation. One such challenge
is the way in which learning support is provided to learners who struggle in mainstream classrooms.
The department of education opted for a systemic approach to learning support services. The Western
Cape Education Department (WCED), in particular, adopted a learning support model which reflects the
changed role of learning support teachers. Research confirms that the role of learning support teachers
is more comprehensive and complex within an inclusive education system. Learning support teachers
in South Africa (like their counterparts across the world) have their roots in the individualised medical
paradigm. Therefore, as key role players in establishing inclusive education in schools, learning support
teachers are currently faced with the challenge to make a paradigmatic shift from the traditional narrow
focus towards addressing learning support systemically.
This article explores the experiences of learning support teachers in a district of the WCED as they engage
and adapt in their new role as part of a collaborative team addressing barriers to learning systemically
within a whole school approach.