Research perspectives and issues WALES

University of Winchester
30th April 2013
Jane Waters
Provision 0-8
• Flying start (SES-directed funding and provision)/ local provision
• Funded nursery place from 3rd birthday in Foundation Phase
(FP) setting (usually located in a school)
• FP: N,R, Y1 and Y2 follow FP under 7 Areas of Learning (AoLs)
• Personal and Social Development, Well-Being and Cultural Diversity;
• Language, Literacy and Communication Skills;
• Mathematical Development;
• Welsh Language Development (in English-medium schools and
• Knowledge and Understanding of the World;
• Physical Development;
• Creative Development.
• Transition into KS2 national curriculum Wales
• ‘Play-based’/ ‘active learning’
• ‘Balance between child-initiated and practitioner-directed’
• ‘Emphasis on use of the outdoors’
• Pedagogical approach is not explicitly set out (Welsh
Government Social Research, WGSR, 2013)
• E.g. Distributed across:
• ‘Foundation Phase Framework’;
• ‘Play/Active Learning’;
• ‘Learning and Teaching Pedagogy’ and
• ‘Observing Children’.
• Continuous, enhanced, focus tasks
• Location of trained adult / teacher usually with focus task
in WGRS 2013
Adult:chlid ratios
in FP settings:
FP Assessment
• On-entry assessment
• ‘provide a baseline of the child’s development progress and needs
• to help plan for the next steps in their learning and development’.
• No prescribed tool for on-entry assessment to the Foundation Phase.
• The previous statutory assessment tool, the Child Development Assessment
Profile (CDAP), was withdrawn in February 2012.
• Review of assessment tools:
• Wide range:
• include tools that have been developed locally or in-house,
• the tools that the settings used prior to the introduction of CDAP,
• CDAP in full or in part and
• a range of other commercially available tools .
• Report to parents at end Y2; teacher assessment
Common assessment framework
• Development of 0-7 assessment framework is out to
tender from WG
• Consultation re: common assessment framework 0-7 from
Summer 2014
• Welcomed but sceptical
• ‘must be based on observation over a number of weeks of the child
in natural FP setting’
• ‘Would provide joined up thinking across 0-7 age range and help
remove false divide 0-3/ 3-7’ Flying start
Welsh in Education Strategy
• Outcome 1
• More seven-year-old children being taught through the
medium of Welsh.
Indicator Targets
The percentage of Year 2 learners assessed in Welsh
(first language)
• 2015: 25%
• 2020: 30%
‘Welsh medium’ FP education - no ‘English’ language
teaching until KS2
2011 data: 21.9% Y2 children assessed through WM (first
• year on year increase since 2003 (19%)
National policies/priorities impacting on
ECE provision
• National ‘3 priority areas’
• Literacy
• Numeracy
• Breaking the link between poverty and achievement
• National Literacy Programme and National Numeracy
Programme (from Sept 2013)
• ‘PISA panic’
• The Literacy and Numeracy Framework (LNF)
• curriculum planning tool (5-14 years)
• outlines literacy and numeracy skills to be developed across the
• The Literacy and Numeracy tests are not part of the LNF. They
are statutory.
• ‘raising the bar’ of expected achievement
• concern raised over lack of discrimination at lower end of the tests
(failure at 7)
National policies/priorities impacting on
ECE provision
• WG ‘have adopted the UNCRC as the basis of all work for
children and young people.
• This is expressed in seven core aims. All children and young
• have a flying start in life
• have a comprehensive range of education and learning opportunities
• enjoy the best possible health and are free from abuse, victimisation and
have access to play, leisure, sporting and cultural activities
are listened to, treated with respect, and have their race and cultural
identity recognised
have a safe home and a community which supports physical and
emotional wellbeing
are not disadvantaged by poverty.
• The 7 core aims ‘form the basis for decisions:
• on priorities and objectives nationally.
• on strategy and service provision locally’
Research agenda
• Foundation Phase evaluation ongoing (Cardiff Uni lead)
• HEFCW funded WISERDEducation initiative:
• Data mining focus/ quantitative development of research capacity
in Wales
• Local small ‘r’ research
• Minimal national agenda outside FP evaluation
Critique / comments
• Wales' significant investment, through Flying Start, in
children under 4 for the next 3 years is ‘something to be
proud of’. Impact?
• Geographical nature of provision 0-3
• Workforce competency 0-3 is inconsistent
• Those 0-3 outside maintained sector are squeezed by current
economic climate
• Gap in quality assurance of EYEC standards across 0-7
• Division of 0-3 and 3-7 ECE and 0-5 / 5+ in other services
leads to inconsistencies across Wales
• Proposed EYDAF in developmental in its conceptualisation
Critique / comments
Learning and teaching in the FP:
• ‘there is no single clear explanation for the approach and
pedagogy of the Foundation Phase that practitioners could use’.
(WGSR 2013 viii)
• FP ‘pedagogy’ very varied on the ground (inside and out)
• Tensions in pedagogical ideology of FP and the reality of focus
task directed (if ‘play-based’) ‘teaching’
• Opportunities for child initiated learning and co-constructed episodes
limited by this tension
• Inherent tensions in FP pedagogy / National Literacy and
Numeracy programmes / Welsh language agenda
• Tension between the children's rights approach (7 Core Aims)
and the (perceived) move towards adult-led pedagogy
• Welsh Government Social Research (2013) Evaluating
the Foundation Phase: Policy Logic Model and
Programme Theory ISBN 978-0-7504-8080-2

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