Welsh Government
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Wales’s early years reform is on a roll


First Minister Rhodri Morgan and Education Minister Jane Hutt today marked the second year roll-out of the Foundation Phase by meeting  some of its young pioneers at St James’s primary school in Caerphilly.

From the start of this autumn term the Assembly Government’s revolutionary play-based curriculum rolls out to include 4 to 5-year olds. By the 2011/2012 school year all children aged 3 to 7 will benefit from this new approach to learning.

Education Minister Jane Hutt said that over £170 million had been allocated to the first three years of the Foundation Phase rollout which reinforces the Assembly Government’s continued commitment to the policy.

As the Foundation Phase operates on a 1:8 adult to child ratio for 3 to 5 year olds, schools have seen an increase in the number of classroom assistants being employed. Across Wales since September 2008 almost 2,000 additional classroom assistants have joined the Foundation Phase workforce. Indications are that this will rise to 3,250 from this September.

The First Minister said:

“The Foundation Phase for our 3-7 year olds is the most momentous change to education in Wales since devolution and probably in the past half century.  It is one of our flagship policies as a government   The changeover to a Learn through Play type curriculum for our 3-7 year olds has been adopted with a huge enthusiasm by the educational world.  We are confident that our children will benefit from it years down the line.    

“Based on international research and examples of delivery in Scandinavian countries and New Zealand we believe the Foundation Phase will deliver huge benefits which will become apparent during teenage years when there can be a fall off in attendance and interest in learning. We want to reduce that long tail of educational non-attainment that has bedevilled Welsh education for far too long.  The Foundation Phase is a big step towards that goal.

"It is a big departure from traditional British early years educational practice, where formal pencil and paper education starts earlier than in most countries.  Making this change is a big step but it has been very extensively piloted to ensure that we can make this massive step forward with confidence.”    

Education Minister Jane Hutt added:

“Feedback from schools and parents about the Foundation Phase over the last year has been really positive. On my visits to schools the length and breadth of Wales I have seen the way in which schools have embraced our new early years curriculum. I am particularly impressed by the way in which many schools have transformed their outdoor spaces to create exciting environments where children can learn.

“After a successful first year rolling out the Foundation Phase to 3 to 4 year olds I am pleased that the Foundation Phase curriculum is now statutory for all 4 to 5 year olds across Wales.”

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We are responsible for keeping the whole school curriculum and its assessment arrangements under review and advising the Minister for Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills accordingly.
The Foundation Phase is a new approach to learning for children from 3-7 years of age.

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