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Evaluation of the Foundation Phase in Wales finds ‘play-based approach to learning’ a success

The Welsh government has published the final valuation report on the Foundation Phase (the statutory curriculum for children aged 3 to 7), following a three-year consultation process involving a number of universities.

The foundation phase replaced the Key Stage 1 National Curriculum in Wales over a period of three years, between 2004 and 2007.

Drawing on evidence from early years programmes in Scandinavia, Italy, and New Zealand, which showed that extensive formal teaching before the age of six or seven can result in lower standards of attainment in the longer term; it set out to provide an experiential, play-based approach to learning for children aged 3 to 7-years-old. 

The report found that this new play-based curriculum has led categorically to overall improvements in pupil’s educational achievements, wellbeing, and engagement in learning, and that these improvements have the potential to lead to even greater educational success as the children grow up.

The report made 29 recommendations for government, and the early years and primary education sector, and concluded that the Welsh Government should be encouraged to continue to develop and enhance the Foundation Phase.

Claire Protheroe, Direct Services Manager for PACEY Cymru said: “These findings support PACEY’s view that play and active learning is one of the most important factors in developing the skills children need to be resilient and confident; and develop creativity and curiosity. 

The ethos and philosophy of the Foundation Phase with its play based approach has been well received in Wales and something we should be proud of.   It is clear there is work that can be done to further develop the Foundation Phase in line with the recommendations of the report. 

PACEY Cymru work closely with Welsh Government and I am sure much of our work will be guided by these recommendations”

A full copy of the report is available, here