The influence of learning support on foundation phase learners’ self-esteem
A need for learning support in mainstream schools has come to the fore with the implementation of the inclusive education policy in South Africa. Learners who experience barriers to learning are withdrawn from the mainstream class in small groups in order to receive extra support in their home language and mathematics. The purpose of this mixed-method convergent study was to determine the influence of withdrawal from the mainstream classroom, for learning support, on the foundation phase learners’ self-esteem. The phenomena were studied from the perspective of mainstream and learning support teachers as well as the learners. In the quantitative phase, surveys consisting of open and closed questions were distributed to seventy mainstream and seven learning support teachers. The qualitative phase used Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) to analyse data gleaned from the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale which had been adapted into an interview schedule in order to determine the perceptions of self-esteem, of five foundation phase learners, who were withdrawn from the mainstream classroom for learning support. This study found that learning support did not seem to have a negative influence on the global self-esteem of the learner participants in this study. It was found that the school culture and mainstream teachers’ attitudes had a negative influence on learners’ self-esteem. Other variables that had a negative influence on self-esteem were family relationships and the learners’ social competence and acceptance, and non-academic competencies were shown to have a greater effect on self-esteem. Overall, both the teachers and learners indicated that they perceived that LS had a positive influence on learners’ self-esteem.