Original Research

Foundation Phase teachers’ understanding of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder at Johannesburg independent schools

Tamara H. Jaye, Cecil Levy, Jacob Majakwara, Sheri Hanson
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 10, No 1 | a825 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v10i1.825 | © 2020 Tamara Heidi Jaye | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 November 2019 | Published: 08 December 2020

About the author(s)

Tamara H. Jaye, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Health Sciences School of Clinical Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Cecil Levy, Department of Nephrology, Faculty of Paediatrics, Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital, Johannesburg, South Africa
Jacob Majakwara, School of Statistics and Actuarial Science, Faculty of Science, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Sheri Hanson, Private Practice, Johannesburg, South Africa


Background: Attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD) disorder is a common childhood neurodevelopmental disorder. The symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention often become evident in a structured classroom setting. Teachers play a key role in identifying these features and referring these pupils for assessments.

Aim: This study investigated the understanding and perceptions of ADHD amongst Foundation Phase teachers at independent schools in Johannesburg.

Setting: This study was conducted at nine independent schools in the Johannesburg area.

Methods: A total of 95 teachers filled out a standardised questionnaire, the Knowledge of Attention Deficit Disorders Scale (KADDS), which looks at three aspects of ADHD, namely, associated features, symptoms and treatment. The teachers also answered several demographic questions such as their sex, age, level of education, knowledge of a person outside the school with ADHD and confidence to teach a child with ADHD. An informal directed discussion group was conducted, which comprised 32 teachers who had filled in the questionnaire. Open-ended questions were asked during the discussion group.

Results: The overall results were the highest obtained compared to similar previous studies. These teachers had a very good knowledge with regard to the symptoms of ADHD, they had a fair understanding about the treatment of ADHD and their knowledge about the associated features of ADHD was limited. Exposure to children with ADHD and higher number of ADHD workshops attended and ADHD articles read were beneficial to the teachers’ overall knowledge about ADHD. Years of experience and the age of the teacher were not associated with a greater knowledge about ADHD.

Conclusion: Independent school Foundation Phase teachers displayed a good level of knowledge about ADHD. This knowledge was enhanced by continual ADHD education and exposure to children with ADHD.


ADHD; Foundation Phase teachers; knowledge; perceptions; education


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