Social Networking Theory frames teachers understanding of Special Needs in South African mainstream schools.

Dr Jean Fourie presented a paper at the EduLearn Conference, in Spain on 2 July 2018, entitled, “Social Networking Theory as a framework for addressing Special Needs in South African mainstream schools.

Supporting the increasing numbers of learners with special educational needs in mainstream schools is challenging in addressing complex psycho-educational support needs. In this qualitative case study data were collected from in-depth focus group interviews with the school based support team members. Thematic content analysis of the data was framed against the constructs of Social Networking Theory. Findings revealed a well-functioning team establishes strong ties with teachers, parents, social workers and other practitioners. Strong team leaders actively manage curriculum adaptations, individual education plans and assessment accommodations. Networking between teachers and outside agents are highly valued. Many role players working in dynamic, open networks build the social capital of individual educators. Well-structured networks show greater resilience in meeting diverse learning needs in mainstream schools rather than sparsely linked networks with limited educational resources.