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What is the Foundation Phase?

Welsh Assembly Government

What is the Foundation Phase?

The Foundation Phase is a new approach to learning for children from 3-7 years of age. It combines what we currently call Early Years Education (for 3 to 5-year-olds) and Key Stage 1 (5 to 7-year-olds) of the National Curriculum. To support the rollout of the Foundation Phase, a statutory framework, 'Framework for Children’s Learning for 3 to 7-year-olds in Wales', is available.

The Foundation Phase is based on the principle that early years’ provision should offer a sound foundation for future learning through a developmentally appropriate curriculum.

It will bring more consistency and continuity to children’s education at such an all-important period in their development.

The Foundation Phase places great emphasis on children learning by doing. Young children will be given more opportunities to gain first hand experiences through play and active involvement rather than by completing exercises in books. They will be given time to develop their speaking and listening skills and to become confident in their reading and writing abilities.

Mathematics will be more practical so that children can see how problems are solved and how important mathematics is in their everyday lives. There will be more emphasis on children understanding how things work and on finding different ways to solve problems.

The curriculum will focus on experiential learning, active involvement and developing each child’s: 

  • Skills and understanding 
  • Personal, social, emotional, physical and intellectual well being so as to develop the whole child. 
  • Positive attitudes to learning so that they enjoy it and want to continue 
  • Self-esteem and self-confidence to experiment, investigate, learn new things and form new relationships.
  •  Creative, expressive and observational skills to encourage their development as individuals with different ways of responding to experiences.
  • Activities in the outdoors where they have first-hand experience of solving real-life problems and learn about conservation and sustainability.

This framework sets out the curriculum and outcomes under seven Areas of Learning. For each Area of Learning, the educational programme sets out what children should be taught and the outcomes set out expected standards of children’s performance.

The Foundation Phase will be implemented over four years as follows:

1 August 2008 for all 3 to 4-year-olds in the Foundation Phase
1 August 2009 for all 4 to 5-year-olds in the Foundation Phase
1 August 2010 for all 5 to 6-year-olds in the Foundation Phase
1 August 2011 for all 6 to 7-year-olds in the Foundation Phase.

From these dates, the existing national curriculum for Key Stage 1 is superseded.

A series of guidance documents have been developed to support the implementation of the Foundation Phase.

Job Opportunities

As part of the Foundation Phase schools and nurseries will be required to increase the number of Classroom Assistants working with children between the ages of 3 and 7 years old. This will provide a number of new Classroom Assistant job opportunities in your area.

For more information.

Related Links

This document sets out the Welsh Assembly Government’s requirements for the Foundation Phase for 3 to 7-year-olds in Wales.
This guidance document supports the Foundation Phase Framework for Children’s Learning for 3 to 7-year-olds in Wales.
This document provides guidance on the importance of observation in the Foundation Phase.
This guidance relates to the skills, knowledge and understanding that are essential to learning and teaching across the Foundation Phase.
A new approach to the education and care of 3 to 7 year olds.