Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research, Data & Methods
Sefydliad Ymchwil Gymdeithasol ac Economaidd, Data a Dulliau Cymru

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ESRC Wales DTP PhD studentship in Social Sciences: A Longitudinal Evaluation of the Foundation Phase

Application deadline

1 February 2017

Start date

October 2017


MSc and PhD, 4 years (1+3); or PhD, 3 years (+3)

Funding body


Level of study

Postgraduate research

Award type

PhD studentship

Number of studentships



Professor Chris Taylor (Co-director, WISERD)

Applications are being sought for a prestigious, full-time ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership for Wales (Wales DTP) PhD Studentship, partly funded by the Welsh Government, to be based in the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University, to begin in October 2017.

The Foundation Phase is the early years curriculum for all 3 to 7 year olds in Wales. It is a flagship policy of the Welsh Government and heralds a radical new approach to early years education.

This collaborative studentship builds on the successful independent evaluation of the Foundation Phase undertaken by the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data & Methods (WISERD) and funded by the Welsh Government between 2011-2015. The evaluation made 29 recommendations to improve the delivery of the Foundation Phase. In November 2016 the Welsh Government subsequently published their Foundation Phase Action Plan in response to some of these recommendations.

In collaboration with the Welsh Government this studentship aims to examine the delivery of the Foundation Phase, ten years after it was first rolled out and five years after the WISERD evaluation began. It will also be able to study the impact of the recent Foundation Phase Action Plan.

Central to the WISERD evaluation were 51 case study schools and settings, selected using a stratified random sample from across Wales. The case studies included systematic classroom observations, interviews with teachers and additional practitioners and various activities with pupils.

The research team developed numerous research tools to aide with the collection of data and analysis of the results. This studentship would aim to replicate much of the case study research, repeating the classroom observations and interviewing the staff in the same schools and settings, for example.

Data will be compared to the evaluation data to identify changes in the delivery and practice of the Foundation Phase. It will also provide a unique opportunity to consider how the Foundation Phase is being delivered alongside other recent policy reforms, such as the Literacy and Numeracy Framework (LNF) and the introduction of standardised testing for all 7 to 13 year olds in Wales.

The studentship will also provide an opportunity to explore a number of critical issues, such as why the Foundation Phase has seemingly had limited impact on closing the attainment gap between boys and girls and between pupils eligible for free school meals and other pupils.

This studentship provides a unique opportunity for a high quality candidate to work with experienced researchers in WISERD. The Welsh Government will also provide an opportunity for the student to undertake a three-month (fully funded) placement within the Welsh Government, providing an excellent opportunity for the student to experience research in a policy environment and to ensure that their own research can inform further developments in policy and practice.

For more information and to apply please visit here.



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