Stump up for play-led learning

24th August 2007 at 01:00
The enthusiasm that oozes from teachers in infant and primary schools piloting the foundation phase (FP) in Wales is evident to any outsider including reporting staff at TES Cymru (page 2). But it appears that all is not rosy in the garden with this initiative, which has already inspired the hearts and minds of so many adults and children.

While Estyn, the Welsh inspectorate, reports that staff have had their confidence boosted by this new, play-led way of teaching young children, the same cannot be said about the funding available. Fears that current levels, outlined in Estyn's report, will not be enough to meet the needs and aspirations of this well-thought-of strategy even despite additional cash announced last year have always lurked, if we are honest. The practical elements, however, appear to have been glossed over with great gusto in the rush to make this forward-thinking policy work.

Yes, it is worrying that not all teachers are clear over this learning technique the great emphasis on outdoor play being a major part of its philosophy. It is also concerning that the assessment of young children's progress is not being tracked or monitored effectively. The idea that our young may be wandering around playing aimlessly, with their teacher not quite sure when to intervene or guide, is a stab in the heart for any parent. But without more money for training staff, how will these teething problems be sorted out?

The cracks are appearing and the Assembly government must move quickly. With just one year until the introduction of the FP to all three to five-year-olds, we need action sooner rather than later.

There is no doubt that this initiative is a good one and improvements in children's language use are already evident, as is some excellent practice and delivery. However, it is time for the Assembly government to face reality and realise that even the most sweetly wrapped initiative on the surface needs some hard cash and clear guidance at its core.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today