The purpose of this study was to explore the role that the educational psychologist can play to
support inclusion at school level in South Africa. The study aims to provide national, provincial
and district support teams with information that could guide them on how best to utilise
educational psychology services within the context of limited resources. It also aims to guide the
educational psychology profession in how best to provide support within the South African public
inclusive schooling system. The research was conducted using a conceptual framework based on three matrices designed by Wedell (2005) to address some of the ‘rigidities that hamper inclusion’ (Wedell, 2005, p. 4).
My deduction was that these matrices do not adequately capture the stage of development of
inclusive education in the South African context, and that additional matrices are needed which
show the key variables that are impacting on the ability of the educational psychologist to
support learners with barriers to learning in the South African public education context.
In this study, I followed an interpretivist paradigm, and adopted an instrumental case study
design. The intention was to gain insight at a very practical level, namely the school, into how
the challenges related to inclusion are being, and could be, addressed. Data was collected in
one Gauteng public school through semi-structured face-to-face interviews with the school
principal, a private educational psychologist providing services to the school community, a
parent and national Department of Basic Education officials, and focus groups with teachers and
district officials. Three main themes emerged following thematic content analysis of the data:
Participants’ understanding and experiences of inclusion and inclusive education at school level,
perceptions of the role of the educational psychologist in supporting inclusion in schools, and the
future role of educational psychologists in supporting inclusion in schools.
The findings indicate that inclusion remains more of an aspiration than a reality, and show the
important role the educational psychologist can play in helping to build collaborative approaches
to planning and implementation of policy. Amongst other things, educational psychologists
should find a way, collectively, of engaging with district offices to structure planning and
implementation that includes the profession.