Specialised Services

Physical Education
As part of the holistic educational plan for the school, and as described in our adapted teaching plan, the CLASSIC, Thuthukani has a dedicated physical education teacher. Staff members with appropriate skills are encouraged to teach sport activities. Water safety is taught to every learner and we have a small swimming team. Other sporting activities offered are soccer, netball, cricket, table tennis, learning to ride a bicycle and athletics. We have an annual interhouse sport day, where the school is divided into teams who compete in athletics as well as for a "spirit cup". We offer a sport called “hocker” to our learners who have Cerebral Palsy

Thuthukani belongs to sporting bodies for the disabled, and we participate actively in the competitions offered. Our learners are often chosen for regional, provincial and national teams in all the above sports.

Thuthukani has junior, senior and staff choirs who are requested from time to time to perform at functions in the community and for businesses in the area. It is very moving to hear their lovely voices singing our national anthem in harmony, while their hands dance in sign language.

We have teams who participate in Zulu cultural festivals, doing traditional Zulu dances and songs. We offer ballroom and latin american dance lessons to learners and our team often enters competitions where they do very well. We have also entered the local Eisteddfod where our modern dance groups have performed very well.

Thuthukani hosts a triennial school concert. This gives our learners and teachers an opportunity to showcase their talents to the community at a gala event.
Once a year we have a Christmas Concert during which each learner has an opportunity to perform an item in class groups for their parents.
Other regular annual events at Thuthukani include Workers Day, Mr & Ms Thuthukani, Spring Day and Heritage Day.

Woodwork is offered as a subject to all the boys and girls in the Intermediate and Senior Phases.  In the woodwork class the learners are exposed to the tools and learn to use them safely. They do small woodwork projects.  They learn basic safety as well as how to work with electricity safely.  One of the tasks would be to teach the learners how to change and wire a plug correctly.  The more able learners will be involved in making wooden ironing boards for sale, and many households in Empangeni boast with one of our ironing boards.

Home Economics
The CLASSIC requires that our learners can cook a basic balanced meal for themselves, and their family while using kitchen equipment properly and safely. We strive to teach them to follow a basic recipe. In the home economics class at Thuthukani the learners use specially adapted recipes that use pictures rather than words.  Learners are also taught basic needlework, e.g. sewing on a button or doing a hem by hand.  Boys and girls from Intermediate and Senior phases are taught Home Economics.

Sign Language
Many of the learners at Thuthukani are also speech and/or hearing impaired. We have a South African Sign Language instructor who teaches them sign language as an alternative way to communicate. She also works with all the other learners to teach them the basic words in Sign Language. Sign Language is a visual activity, and we find that our learners pick up the very useful signs very quickly. Learners that use Sign Language as their only means of communication are grouped together as far as possible in a class with an educator who is proficient in Sign Language. Most of the other educators know the basic signs to greet and for basic needs.

Wednesday Amathuba
On Wednesdays, selected seniors are taken to various businesses in Empangeni. They spend 2 hours doing actual jobs for the employers. The jobs are entry-level jobs, such as assisting a cleaner or mechanic, scullery or packing work. The learners are taught new skills and work place behaviour. The companies include Amble Inn B&B, Wimpy, Boxer Superstore, Roy's Mica, Imperial Nissan Zululand, Jenny's Florist, Life Empangeni Garden Clinic, Coastal Equipment & Tools, Umfolozi Casino and Resort, and Dunlop Auto Wheel and Tyre.

These companies offer on-the-job training to the learners at no cost to Thuthukani, and some of our learners have done occasional, paid weekend work at these places. Amathuba is a Zulu word that means "opportunity". This is an opportunity for our senior learners to learn what it means to be a good worker and an opportunity for the community of Empangeni to get to know some of our learners.

Occupational Therapy
The Occupational Therapists at Thuthukani are fully involved in the screening, assessment and appropriate placement of each learner that is referred to Thuthukani.

The OT's support learners and educators by treating individuals, small groups or classes based on their specific needs and impairments. This therapy adds to the school program by working on the learner's fine & gross motor, perceptual development, and prevocational skills.

Thuthukani employs two nurses who look after the basic healthcare needs of the learners. They are also involved in the education of the learners especially in basic first aid, self care and knowledge about diseases that touch their lives.
Our Nurses assist learners and their families to access care dependency grants and disability grants.

Thuthukani Adult Workshop
The Thuthukani Adult Workshop was established to run parallel to Thuthukani Special School.
The Adult Workshop’s main objectives are to offer supported employment to ex-pupils of Thuthukani Special School and other intellectually disabled adults and to prepare workers for absorption into the open labour market. The Workshop’s secondary objectives are to help workers to become productive members of society; to restore their faith in themselves, their ability to work and to become contributing members of society.

The Adult Workshop is supported by the Department of Social Development who supplies a subsidy to the Workshop. However, to qualify for the subsidy, the Workshop Manager must have the following in place: a business plan, a disabled labour force, work to do, supervisors, as well as a premise to operate from that is accessible and meets health and safety requirements.

The Workshop rents space from Thuthukani Special School. The Adult Workshop currently employs 120 adults with intellectual disability.
The Workshop’s contract work was created by a local business owner, Mr P Bannock, who has responded to the dire need for inclusive employment in the community. He has chosen not to mechanise his factory, but to provide the contract for labour intensive manual work to the Thuthukani Adult Workshop. This local business owner has supported the workshop for many years, and he gave us a commitment that this contract would run for at least the next 15 years. Local community leaders have also expressed a commitment to the workshop and other contracts on a smaller basis are often granted to the workshop.

The model used is a model of supported employment with the workshop manager acting as link between the Department of Social Development and the Workshop as well as the Community and the Workshop. Groups of ±30 workers have 1 supervisor who assists them to do the jobs and coaches them in their pre-vocational skills. Workers are assisted to access a disability grant and they earn a wage based on their production. This means that while some workers can perform for longer hours and earn a higher wage, other workers are supported to work for as long as they can, and then they still have a safe place to be for the rest of the day. All workers have a bus pass and use public transport to and from work. This allows them to fulfil the role of worker, and many of our workers are the breadwinners of their families. Some workers have gone on to be employed at local businesses and all have been successfully integrated into the local community.

Class music is presented to the Pre-Foundation, Foundation and Intermediuate phase learners. By using music, learners will learn in a fun way. The learners do rhythm, movement, and singing activities. They are taught to use percussion instruments. Listening skills are developed, voices are trained and basic note values are taught in music class.

Support Group
Due to the great need of learners needing high levels of support, and limited resources, there is a waiting list at Thuthukani Special School. Seeing that learners who are on the waiting list for the Pre-Foundation Phase are the learners who need the highest levels of support, and because most of these learners are not attending any school while waiting, a support group was founded. Parents / Caregivers and their children with Intellectual Disability attend the support group once a month. The children attend a group OT session, while the parents attend an interactive information session. Activities are done and home programs are given to assist the parents to interact better with their disabled child and to provide the correct stimulation to the child.

These support groups have proven to be so successful that we have been able to reduce the level of support needed for some learners, and they were able to enrol to Foundation phase classes.