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ECEC policy in the UK:Research perspectives and issuesWALES University of Winchester 30th April 2013 Jane Waters
Provision 0-8 • Flying start (SES-directed funding and provision)/ local provision 0-3 • Funded nursery place from 3rd birthday in Foundation Phase (FP) setting (usually located in a school) • FP: N,R, Y1 and Y2 follow FP under 7 Areas of Learning (AoLs) • Personal and Social Development, Well-Being and Cultural Diversity; • Language, Literacy and Communication Skills; • Mathematical Development; • Welsh Language Development (in English-medium schools and settings); • Knowledge and Understanding of the World; • Physical Development; • Creative Development. • Transition into KS2 national curriculum Wales
Pedagogy • ‘Play-based’/ ‘active learning’ • ‘Balance between child-initiated and practitioner-directed’ • ‘Emphasis on use of the outdoors’ • Pedagogical approach is not explicitly set out (Welsh Government Social Research, WGSR, 2013) • E.g. Distributed across: • ‘Foundation Phase Framework’; • ‘Play/Active Learning’; • ‘Learning and Teaching Pedagogy’ and • ‘Observing Children’. • Continuous, enhanced, focus tasks • Location of trained adult / teacher usually with focus task
Description provided in WGRS 2013 Adult:chlid ratios in FP settings: 1:8 1:15
FP Assessment • On-entry assessment • ‘provide a baseline of the child’s development progress and needs • to help plan for the next steps in their learning and development’. • No prescribed tool for on-entry assessment to the Foundation Phase. • The previous statutory assessment tool, the Child Development Assessment Profile (CDAP), was withdrawn in February 2012. • Review of assessment tools: • Wide range: • include tools that have been developed locally or in-house, • the tools that the settings used prior to the introduction of CDAP, • CDAP in full or in part and • a range of other commercially available tools . • Report to parents at end Y2; teacher assessment
Common assessment framework • Development of 0-7 assessment framework is out to tender from WG • Consultation re: common assessment framework 0-7 from Summer 2014 • Welcomed but sceptical • ‘must be based on observation over a number of weeks of the child in natural FP setting’ • ‘Would provide joined up thinking across 0-7 age range and help remove false divide 0-3/ 3-7’ Flying start
Welsh in Education Strategy • Outcome 1 • More seven-year-old children being taught through the medium of Welsh. • Indicator Targets • The percentage of Year 2 learners assessed in Welsh (first language) • 2015: 25% • 2020: 30% • ‘Welsh medium’ FP education - no ‘English’ language teaching until KS2 • 2011 data: 21.9% Y2 children assessed through WM (first language) • year on year increase since 2003 (19%)
National policies/priorities impacting on ECE provision • National ‘3 priority areas’ • Literacy • Numeracy • Breaking the link between poverty and achievement • National Literacy Programme and National Numeracy Programme (from Sept 2013) • ‘PISA panic’ • The Literacy and Numeracy Framework (LNF) • curriculum planning tool (5-14 years) • outlines literacy and numeracy skills to be developed across the curriculum. • The Literacy and Numeracy tests are not part of the LNF. They are statutory. • ‘raising the bar’ of expected achievement • concern raised over lack of discrimination at lower end of the tests (failure at 7)
National policies/priorities impacting on ECE provision • WG ‘have adopted the UNCRC as the basis of all work for children and young people. • This is expressed in seven core aims. All children and young people: • have a flying start in life • have a comprehensive range of education and learning opportunities • enjoy the best possible health and are free from abuse, victimisation and exploitation • have access to play, leisure, sporting and cultural activities • are listened to, treated with respect, and have their race and cultural identity recognised • have a safe home and a community which supports physical and emotional wellbeing • are not disadvantaged by poverty. • The 7 core aims ‘form the basis for decisions: • on priorities and objectives nationally. • on strategy and service provision locally’
Research agenda • Foundation Phase evaluation ongoing (Cardiff Uni lead) • HEFCW funded WISERDEducation initiative: • Data mining focus/ quantitative development of research capacity in Wales • Local small ‘r’ research • Minimal national agenda outside FP evaluation
Critique / comments • Wales' significant investment, through Flying Start, in children under 4 for the next 3 years is ‘something to be proud of’. Impact? • Geographical nature of provision 0-3 • Workforce competency 0-3 is inconsistent • Those 0-3 outside maintained sector are squeezed by current economic climate • Gap in quality assurance of EYEC standards across 0-7 range • Division of 0-3 and 3-7 ECE and 0-5 / 5+ in other services leads to inconsistencies across Wales • Proposed EYDAF in developmental in its conceptualisation
Critique / comments Learning and teaching in the FP: • ‘there is no single clear explanation for the approach and pedagogy of the Foundation Phase that practitioners could use’. (WGSR 2013 viii) • FP ‘pedagogy’ very varied on the ground (inside and out) • Tensions in pedagogical ideology of FP and the reality of focus task directed (if ‘play-based’) ‘teaching’ • Opportunities for child initiated learning and co-constructed episodes limited by this tension • Inherent tensions in FP pedagogy / National Literacy and Numeracy programmes / Welsh language agenda • Tension between the children's rights approach (7 Core Aims) and the (perceived) move towards adult-led pedagogy
References • Welsh Government Social Research (2013) Evaluating the Foundation Phase: Policy Logic Model and Programme Theory ISBN 978-0-7504-8080-2