Class Assistants

Learners with intellectual and other disabilities need high levels of support and thus we try to maintain a ratio of 8 learners to 1 adult. This means that we have a class assistant working with each teacher. The Department of Education has identified the need for class assistants in special schools. However, all the posts are currently frozen, and Thuthukani relies on our many volunteer class assistants. Some of our staff started as volunteer class assistants, who were inspired to study for teaching degrees, and who after many years of loyal service are now employed at the school. We even have people who have graduated with a professional degree offer to volunteer at Thuthukani to gain experience in the special school setting.

Class assistants are key personnel in our school, as they provide much needed support to the teachers, but also to the learners. Our class assistants drive our extra-curricular projects, such as Mr and Miss Thuthukani, Interhouse Sport Day, Concerts, etc. All our class assistants receive ongoing theoretical and practical in-service training to improve their knowledge, ability, and skill in working with persons with disabilities. Their dedication and passion for education and compassion in working with learners who have severe to profound disabilities also circle out to their families and the communities where they live.

Our class assistants play a unique role in the classroom. Their work entails the following:

  • Assist the teacher with classroom cleaning, organisation & management;
  • Provide general support and assistance for teaching and learning in the Special School Class based on instructions given by the teacher;
  • Based on instructions given by the teacher, (a) supervise class activities, while the teacher works with individual (or small groups of) learners and/or, (b) enhance the learning of individual (or small groups of) learners while the teacher works with the rest of the class and/or, (c) act on behalf of the teacher in his/her absence;
  • Provide the teacher with information on the progress of the learners taught as per the instructions left by the teacher;
  • Assist the teacher with maintaining hygiene of the learners;
  • Assist the teacher to maintain learner discipline in class, while moving between activities and when participating in any school activity;
  • Assist the teacher in the design, preparation, distribution, collection and storage of learner and teaching support material;
  • Act as translator & give support to learners who are learning in a language which is not their home language, as required during the normal activities scheduled for the class;
  • Fully participate in extra- and co-curricular activities and perform all allocated duties inside and outside the classroom.

In the Pre-Vocational Phase Thuthukani has 3 Skills Instructors who are tasked with teaching selected learners a skill that they can use to find work in the open labour market i.e. sewing, gardening and cleaning.

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