Exploring how partnerships between a school for the deaf and hearing parents and is managed : perspectives from school management, teachers, and hearing parents at a combined school for the deaf in KwaZulu-Natal.
Devnath, Cheryl K.
MetadataShow full item record
This research sought to explore how the partnership between the school for the deaf and the hearing parents are managed. It was conducted and completed by obtaining insights from the school management team, teachers and hearing parents regarding their relationship and partnership for the benefit of the deaf child. The literature review underpins what literature and scholars have argued, highlighted and discussed in terms of schools and parent partnerships. However, the focus of this study is schools for the deaf and hearing parents, therefore, specific literature has been identified in the literature review. It provides an understanding of partnerships between schools for the deaf and parents and a theoretical framework within which this study will be analysed. The presentation of research, design, and methodology is mapped out utilising a case study of one combined school for the deaf in KwaZulu-Natal that offered from pre-school to grade 12. It had a principal, deputy principal and three heads of departments in the SMT. In my observation, most of the teachers signed fluently except for a few. The parent body consisted of hundred percent of the parents being hearing to deaf children. Gough (2000) refers to methodology as doing research in an attempt to produce knowledge and provides a set of reasons for the way a researcher move ahead in the study. Methodology refers to more than particular techniques, such as ‘doing a survey’ or ‘interviewing students’. It provides reasons for using such techniques in relation to the kind of knowledge or understanding the researcher is seeking. In this study, I have selected three methods of acquiring data namely, semi-structured interviews; documents review and observations. Qualitative data analysis was used in the process of research. I was actively engaged in the setting and with the participants to generate meaning of their experiences. Therefore, the experiences of the participants have added richness and meaning to the findings. The finding in my qualitative data analysis has provided answers to the critical questions. The data generated from the qualitative research has been analysed using the thematic analysis. The study was conducted to research the partnership between the school for the deaf and hearing parents; and whether it exists and is maintained so as to rule it out as a factor contributing to illiterate deaf learners; or is the partnership partially or non-existent therefore contributing largely to the illiteracy of deaf learners leaving schools for the deaf. The in-depth interviews with the SMT showed that they were very open and honest in sharing all that they did to involve parents and in so doing create partnerships with parents, however, they stated that there was still more work to be done in some areas. They felt that they were doing a lot, however, it was not fulfilling the desired need for parents to become fully involved mostly so through learning their children’s first language being South African Sign Language (SASL). The huge concern was that very few parents were actually interested in learning SASL to communicate with their child that created huge barriers between the hearing parent and their deaf child, and then resulting in a ripple effect into parents feeling inferior or inadequate to become involved in the school. The school personnel in this study were concerned that there were factors of finance, living a distance from the school, learners living with overburdened grannies, uninformed parents, disillusioned parents and uninterested parents were a contributing factor to parents not having a partnership with the school for the deaf. Parent participants in this study, on the contrary are saying we want to be involved, we are involved but when we see a problem and address the problem then we are seen as problem makers and the school hides behind policies. They not feeling welcome and not enough was being done by the school and there is no partnership between the school for the deaf and the hearing parents. The emerging themes were analysed and recommendations were made on how the school SMT can move forward in strengthening bonds with the hearing parents. The data has shown that both parties should make concerted efforts to take responsibility in their roles in relation to the deaf learners and fulfil their roles then a partnership can be created to work harmoniously in the best interest of the deaf learners.