Grade 1 learners in South Africa are not receiving the quality education they deserve. Early Childhood Education forms the basis of all education; however, numerous challenges in the South African education system impede the teaching and learning of young children. In this article we investigate Grade 1 teachers’ responsibilities in the class and the teachers’ management of the complex teaching environments. Qualitative data using semi structured interviews with 9 Grade 1 teachers and teaching assistants (TAs) at 6 schools were used to gain insight into and explore various perspectives on the need for the services of teaching assistants in Grade 1 classrooms. The participants were selected from public, private and rural schools, using purposeful sampling, to allow for a broad spectrum of inputs. Findings indicate that participants regard the presence of teaching assistants as a necessity in Grade 1 classrooms as it allows the teacher to focus on quality teaching. The support provided by teaching assistants contributes to the quality of the learning facilitated by the teacher and allows learners access to the individualised attention that they need.
This article is based on the masters’ thesis of Nabeelah Cassim. (http://hdl.handle.net/2263/60990)