Theory versus practice of inclusive education : an exploration of teacher development in selected affluent high schools in greater Durban.
Despite a national and international focus on the effective implementation of inclusive education, there remains a discrepancy between the desire to provide inclusive education and the realities of providing such an education. Whilst there has been wide-scale teacher development workshops offered by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education, the ability of these workshops to provide teachers with meaningful insight into how to implement inclusive education practices in their classroom has been limited. This training has been criticized for being too theoretical and providing teachers with few practical strategies to deal with learners who have barriers to learning. In addition to this, much of the training that has taken place has been aimed at primary school teachers and there is much confusion amongst the teaching body as to how inclusive education can be implemented in the high school. This research studies the state of inclusive education in 6 affluent schools, both government and independent, in the greater Durban area, in terms of the teacher development that has taken place and the level of confidence amongst teachers in providing support to learners with barriers to learning, especially those learners who have learning disabilities. The schools researched are of the privileged few who can afford to invest in teacher development programmes over and above what is offered by the provincial department of education. In spite of this, teachers in these schools have been poorly prepared to meet the needs of learners with barriers to learning in their schools and they have little confidence in their own abilities to teach these learners. Subsequent interviews with senior staff members in these schools reveal that in reality, learners are not receiving the level of support that is being marketed by the Department of Education. Through this research it becomes clear that schools which have successfully implemented inclusive education are those that have taken the initiative to embark on teacher development within the school. The research conducted and an extensive literature review is used to suggest ways of narrowing the divide between the theory of implementing inclusive education and the actual practice thereof.