More Pressure on the Foundation Phase

20 Oct

Last week the Education Minister issued a statement on the revised areas of learning for Wales.  Much of it was to be expected.  One point that did jump out at me is the statement on the Foundation Phase.

“For the Foundation Phase, Areas of Learning are now presented in the revised layout of year-by-year expectations. I want to be absolutely clear that this does not mark any departure from the current approach for the Foundation Phase – my commitment to the Foundation Phase and its philosophy to teaching and learning has not changed. The emphasis is still firmly focused on teaching our youngest children at a pace and level that is appropriate to them, and through experiential learning.”

I’ve written on several occasions about watering down the commitment to the Foundation Phase.  I’m pleased to read here that the Minister has put it clearly that he retains support for the principles of the policy.  Sadly, I’m not convinced that the actions that are being taken reflect those words.

I find it very hard to believe that anyone could possibly expect children to learn ‘at a pace and level that is appropriate to them’ while also setting ‘year-by-year expectations.’ Those year-by-year expectations are, by definition, setting a level for children which may, or may not, be appropriate.  Teachers will undoubtable be pressured to move children along at a pace that matches the expectations rather than at a pace that matches the capabilities of those children.  In the long-term that will lead to children being marginalised, disinterested and disengaged from education.

It will be hard to reassure Foundation Phase practitioners that the style of teaching they have been delivering, and which has been internationally recognised, is not under threat.

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