Nothing's going to stop them now

18th July 2008 at 01:00
It is a great credit to the teaching profession in Wales that many primary schools are forging ahead this September with the foundation phase - described this week as "one of the most significant reforms ever in Welsh education" - regardless of the funding fiasco (page 1)
It is a great credit to the teaching profession in Wales that many primary schools are forging ahead this September with the foundation phase - described this week as "one of the most significant reforms ever in Welsh education" - regardless of the funding fiasco (page 1).

It is even more admirable that, despite the doom merchants, all the signs are that many will be able to go ahead with the recommended 1:8 teacher-to-pupil ratio of the foundation phase (FP).

A snapshot survey by the TES Cymru has revealed that many non-pilot schools were on top of the game in their planning for the play-led FP and, despite obstacles, were never going to allow a cash-flow problem to dampen their enthusiasm for roll-out.

There was no way Heather Thomas, head of Fairwater Primary in Cardiff, for example, was going to "disappoint" her children by stalling. All the heads spoken to this week are true troupers; they love the FP and believe it is the way to raise attainment.

It was right for teaching unions, political opponents, even this paper, to voice so much concern at the lack of funding. But the fighting spirit of the experts at the frontline, who believe in the FP and would jump through hoops to ensure it was delivered on time, has made the difference.

It is a shame if there are schools which have been forced to delay, creating what David Evans, the NUT Cymru secretary, warned this week would end in a "two-tier system". But it seems these schools are few.

It is also inexcusable that a "chronic systems failure" between the Assembly government and the Welsh Local Government Association - reported following an inquiry into the underfunding of the strategy this week - greatly exacerbated FP funding problems.

But as primary school staff break up for the summer, they can give themselves a pat on the back. Against all the odds, most will return to their reception classes in the new academic year, teaching the strategy they love and proving the critics wrong.

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