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Written Statement - An independent stocktake of the Foundation Phase in Wales

Huw Lewis, Minister for Education and Skills
I am pleased to announce that I will be publishing “An independent stocktake of the Foundation Phase in Wales”, today.

Building a Brighter Future: Early Years and Childcare Plan (2013) sets out the Welsh Government’s commitment to improving life chances for children in Wales.  This Plan reaffirms our commitment to the Foundation Phase and that getting it right in the early years is essential to a child’s achievements. 

The Foundation Phase is our flagship policy for early years education.  It is based on the principle that a child’s first steps into formal education should deliver a sound foundation for future learning through an appropriate and relevant curriculum.

Early evidence from the Foundation Phase evaluation and from Estyn thematic reports state that whilst the Foundation Phase is undoubtedly an extremely valuable and effective way of teaching our youngest learners, there are issues with the consistency in the delivery of the Foundation Phase across schools in Wales.

It is for this reason that I announced in July 2013 that Professor Iram Siraj, from the Institute of Education at the University of London, would be undertaking an independent short-term stocktake of the Foundation Phase in Wales.  The stocktake being published today was very much focused on implementation, quality and reducing variability. 

Professor Siraj’s report points out that we’re still in the early stages of the implementation of the Foundation Phase and education reforms take time to embed and deliver improvements.  Where the Foundation Phase is being delivered well, it has the potential to have an enormously positive impact on our youngest learners.  However, we should not be complacent – the inconsistency in delivery must stop.  I am determined that all learners in Wales will have access to a high quality Foundation Phase curriculum and benefit from a positive experience from the start of their education.

I particularly welcome Professor Siraj’s recommendation about a ten year strategic plan to support the next steps in implementation and consolidation of the Foundation Phase across Wales.  I also found her views insightful on how we can upskill the workforce to ensure that all learners have the best early years education possible.  

I will be responding to this Foundation Phase Stocktake alongside the outcomes of the Foundation Phase Evaluation and other ongoing reviews. Together it is intended that the findings from the stocktake, evaluation and reviews will provide a broad evidence base to inform future policy development and strengthen the Foundation Phase as we move forward.  My ambition is that the Foundation Phase in Wales will be recognised as an international exemplar of early years education.