My feed

to access all these features

Join our Primary Education forum to discuss starting school and helping your child get the most out of it.

Primary education

Foundation phase in early education

24 replies

HowlingCow · 10/05/2009 11:44

I live in Wales and schools here have started introducing the new foundation phase in early years. It basically involves their education being play-based. I quite like the idea of this-especially as I used to teach infants myself. What worries me though is that my DD is in Year 1 and her teacher seems to have taken the play aspect to the extreme. The children choose what activities they want to do and never do any formal writing. The teacher says she doesn't believe in homework or even in the children writing at this age. My DD's writing seems to have gone backwards and a lot of other parents are saying the same. There seems to be no discipline in the class. Whenever we broach the subject with teacher she gets very defensive and treats us as problem parents. Any teachers or parents out there involved in this or feeling the same way about it? Year 2 is going to be the same as its a mixed class! (sorry this is so long!)

OP posts:
mrz · 10/05/2009 12:57

I'm not in Wales but I've read the Foundation Phase documents and learning through play doesn't mean a free for all. Some aspects have to be taught it's a simple as that! but once taught children can develop the taught skills through their play.

Takver · 10/05/2009 13:37

We are in Wales, and my dd is in a mixed year 1 year 2 class like your dd, although she is year 2. It is definitely not like you are describing for her or the yr 1s in her class.

Yes, they do more outside stuff, and it is less formal, but they are still doing writing, maths etc. DD finds writing very hard, and struggles with producing more than a sentence or two - she is definitely considered 'behind' what is expected.

They don't have any homework though except for the occasional project linked thing - this weekend dd had to look at different means of transport while she was out and make a sketch of our car as part of planning a painting, but that is I think only the 2nd thing since Christmas. (And the other was making a cardboard castle, so not really that hard work!!!).

mrsmaidamess · 10/05/2009 13:45

Even in a foundation stage classroom they should have a writing table where the class teacher will sit and encourage writing in different forms.

thecloudhopper · 10/05/2009 14:21

I work in a reception class where we are working towards foundation phase. Although there is a great emphasis on play and children doing things when they are ready we do realy try andget the children to write as we know in year 1 they are expected to do a lot more focused tasks than they do in reception. I would also say that some teachers take it as the children deciding all the deciding and I know of places where if the child does not want to come and do reading when the teacher asks then they just dont. This is not how PF should be

HowlingCow · 10/05/2009 17:03

Thanks for comments-been out all day so only just read them! It's really difficult to know how to handle this as obviously childs needs come first so need to confront the teacher somehow. Was thinking of asking her to hold a meeting to explain to all parents how things are going to progress when they're in Year 2 (the only problem is this could turn into a lynch mob situation as some parents are really angry). Any ideas?

OP posts:
Takver · 10/05/2009 17:08

Could you make an appointment and have a chat with the headteacher explaining that you're worried and asking how she sees the Foundation stage working?

I don't know what your school is like, but with ours I don't think that it would be politically awkward to do that, especially if you were cautious in your approach.

HowlingCow · 10/05/2009 17:33

Yes have thought of this-was worried about going over teachers head but at the end of the day-my DD has to come first. School where I used to teach piloted foundation phase (after I'd left) and are a beacon school so was thinking of suggesting to head that teacher goes to observe what they do.

OP posts:
Takver · 10/05/2009 18:20

Well, it sounds from your op that you've tried speaking to the teacher, so its not like you're going over her head without talking to her first . . .

TotalChaos · 10/05/2009 18:23

DS is in reception and is taught in a very play oriented way - but this teacher thinks it's important to teach writing alongside reading, so he does spend some time on writing. (e.g. they did the story what time is it Mr. Wolf, then learnt about time, did some clock pictures and big class painting of Mr. Wolf, then some writing about Mr. Wolf). So what you describe sounds most odd.

Littlefish · 10/05/2009 18:27

I agree with mrz - unfortunately, some teachers have taken the EYFS to mean that the the children should do nothing but unsupported, free play. It doesn't advocate that at all.

I work in a school which encourages all teachers to use a play/creative based approach, but we use it to support teaching and learning. I'm in Y2 and we use a play/exploratary based approach in order to make learning meaningful. Eg. we are going to the woods this week and the children are testing a couple of assertions to do with the circumference of tree trunks ie. do they always measure an odd number, and a problem-solving investigation involving squirels, nuts and even numbers!

izyboy · 10/05/2009 18:35

I thought the foundation phase started this year but only really with the nursery classes as that is where all the funding is going at present for extra staff to do outside activities. Yes other years are taking on board some of the ideas but not to the full extent.

Takver · 10/05/2009 18:38

I thought it had reached Year 1 now? And of course because so many small schools have mixed year classes, I guess they can't really only use it with part of a class . . .

thecloudhopper · 10/05/2009 18:49

And also the foundation phase is only realy supposed to be in nursery classes it is not rolled out to year 1 until 2011

thecloudhopper · 10/05/2009 18:53

I would also like to add that all N/R teachers should have attened training days on the FP but year 1 teachers unless there is a god reason will not do the training until next year.

HowlingCow · 10/05/2009 21:03

Thanks for all your all comments-really helpful. Am going to set up meeting with the head. Teacher didn't need to implement it yet but decided to-hadn't thought about the training aspect of it-she probably hasn't had that yet. Very frustrating!

OP posts:
mrz · 11/05/2009 18:14

The timetable for the Foundation Phase is

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

    but some schools have been involved in the pilot programmes and are further down the process (2 years ahead so in these schools all children will be included in the FP)
thecloudhopper · 11/05/2009 18:59

Yes thats right but in Powys this had to be put back until Jan 09 due to all NR having no N until then

mrz · 11/05/2009 19:20

I think some schools are also finding the cost is slowing things down

izyboy · 11/05/2009 19:23

Yeah the nursery unit at our local school has recruited new teaching assistants specifically for all the outdoor activities that will take place.

thecloudhopper · 11/05/2009 19:23

Yes but the staffing costs have been garunteed by the WAG (Welsh Assembly Government) so ratio should be 1-8 in N/R. I do koow that you need more stuff now tahn you ever did. But lots of that can be done cheeply. We got loads of tires for our outdoor classroom for free. We got topsoil for free from a builder.

izyboy · 11/05/2009 19:32

It'll be absolutely brill for kids like my DS who love creative play but are just still a bit too immature for structured activities yet.

Stinkermink · 11/05/2009 19:35

Not read all the posts but my DS is coming to the end of his first year at FS1. He is a June baby so by the time he starts FS2 will only have done 3 terms, where as some will have done 4 or 5 of FS1. I was a bit concerned about how a dedicated teacher with a couple of LSA would teach a class of 19 but within the last week he has started to write his name coherently. By that I mean other people can understand that he has attempted (and made a good job) of writing his own name, without prompting from him or me.

The learning through play aspect was an initial worry for me, but I am fully conversant with every stage that they are doing at school and we try at home to reinforce his learning without treading on schools toes.

Try not to worry too much, just put in as much effort as you can (and he can stand) at home and to be fair those little magazines you can buy are good for this. And don't worry too much about where other kids are at within the same class. There is a massive difference between just 3 and nearly 4 trust me!

Sweetielowe · 29/06/2009 21:27

I'm a mum of a little girl that is going to be staring year 1 in September.
I'm a little concerned with my daughters progress in her school.
I don't like the foundation phase. My mother is a teacher and she told me that academic standards in Wales have nosedived because of it compared to previous years.

Any progress my daughter has made has mostly been through her reading and writing with me after school because I noticed half way through reception that her writing was actually getting worse.

Her teacher is a lovely woman so feel a little guilty about writing this. However I can see that my daughter has no official school textbook in her book bag of any kind. And very rarely brings home writing work.

My mother told me to teach my daughter myself after school because the school will no longer do any structured lessons.

I've read that the scheme is from 3-7 and that does alarm me?

This form of teaching is wonderful for younger children but if it doesn't start to challenge the 5+ children a little more then we could have illiterate children that can't read or write moving up.

smee · 30/06/2009 11:14

Sweetie would it help to hear that most other countries don't start formal education until children are 7. That their kids do better educationally as a rule. That the Early Years Curriculum isn't about stopping them learning to read and write, it's more teaching them in a different way - through play. That some children genuinely aren't ready to learn until well into year one and some into year two. That the EYC caters much better for all and that your lo won't suffer in fact she'll have a lot of fun?

Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.