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Written Statement - Introduction of a new baseline assessment tool for the Foundation Phase  

Huw Lewis, Minister for Education and Skills
I am pleased to announce that a new assessment tool for the Foundation Phase, which has been developed with teachers and practitioners, will be statutory for use with children in Reception Year from September.

The recent independent evaluation of the Foundation Phase showed that the Foundation Phase is delivering real improvements to our three to seven year olds and encourages schools and other settings to do more to fully embed the principles and approaches of the Foundation Phase.

I believe that the Foundation Phase Profile (the Profile) will be a very important tool to help practitioners support the continued development of Foundation Phase practice. It responds to the needs of schools and practitioners and provides a nationally consistent baseline assessment of children at the start of their time in statutory education. 

I was very conscious of the need to ensure that the Profile is manageable for teachers and other early years practitioners. That is why officials have worked closely with teachers and practitioners in developing the Profile, through a Practitioners’ Task and Finish Group and undertaking a robust trial on a draft profile with around 150 schools and nurseries from January to March 2015. 

We have worked with consortia and local authorities to develop a national training programme to ensure that the Profile is universally understood and consistently applied throughout Wales.  

The Profile will assess all children entering the Reception Year and can be used to track their progress throughout their time in school. It will be statutory at the start of children’s time in the Reception Year but can be used voluntarily throughout all other years of the Foundation Phase from age three through to seven. The assessments are based on observation, not formal testing.

A fundamental principle in developing the profile was that it must be entirely integrated with the Literacy and Numeracy Framework and the revised Areas of Learning for Language, Literacy and Communication Skills and Mathematical Development, which will become statutory from September 2015. Longer term, as the new curriculum is designed and developed to meet the recommendations set out in Successful Futures, we will consider how the Profile will need to develop.  
The Foundation Phase Profile is a key element of a wider programme of work being undertaken by the Welsh Government to produce an Early Years Development and Assessment Framework (EYDAF). The Profile will cover the Foundation Phase and will link to growth and development checks carried out from birth to three years old, for example by health visitors and Flying Start practitioners, as well as other available information for three to seven year olds, such as that available from school nurses.
An Order to put in place the statutory basis for use of the Profile will be laid in August.