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Minister comments on first 'Evaluating the Foundation Phase' reports

6th May 2014

Minister for Education & Skills, Huw Lewis, comments on the release of the first WISERD reports for Welsh Government.

A series of reports into the Welsh Government’s flagship early years education programme the Foundation Phase have been warmly welcomed by Education and Skills Minister Huw Lewis.

The Foundation Phase for children aged 3-7 places emphasis on children learning by doing. There is a strong emphasis on children understanding how things work and on finding different ways to solve problems, both approaches to learning skills that are highly valued by organisations such as the OECD and CBI.

The reports which have been published today were commissioned in 2011. Cardiff University and WISERD are undertaking the long-term evaluation involving settings, practitioners, children and parents from all over Wales. 

The reports show that practitioners are reporting that the Foundation Phase has had a positive impact on Wales’ youngest learners, in particular around wellbeing, attitudes to learning and confidence. This confirms Estyn’s earlier findings about the outcomes of the Foundation Phase and how it gives young people the building blocks for a successful education.

The reports also show that practitioners feel that the Foundation Phase is having the most positive impact on our most vulnerable young people such as learners from more deprived backgrounds, learners with Special Educational Needs and learners with English/Welsh as an Additional Language.

There are also early indications that boys are performing well and are benefiting from the Foundation Phase and that parents are also telling us that they are satisfied with their child’s learning.

Huw Lewis said: “These reports published today are good news for young people in Wales.

“The message that we’re getting from these reports is that those delivering the Foundation Phase feel that our popular early years initiative is making a real difference – especially for children from deprived backgrounds and those with Special Education Needs.

“But there are lessons to be learned. The reports do tell us that we need to do more to ensure a consistent experience for all learners across Wales.  At present there is too much variation for learners from class-to class and from school to school. This must stop.  Consistency is key if we’re to deliver the same positive outcomes for our learners.”

Professor Chris Taylor, who led the research, comments: 

"Whilst these new findings from the evaluation are, in the main, to be welcomed, they are only the first of a large number of evaluation reports that we expect to release over the coming months. These will cover other topics relating to the Foundation Phase, including staffing, training, learning environments, literacy and numeracy, Welsh language development, management and leadership, the views of parents and children themselves, and the impact of the Foundation Phase on learning outcomes."

"This will culminate in a final evaluation report due later this year. Throughout this process we will work closely with the Welsh Government, local authorities, schools, Estyn and other stakeholders, to ensure that findings and recommendations from the evaluation can be used to improve the implementation, delivery and impact of the Foundation Phase in Wales."

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