Research Assistant
Cardiff University

The Foundation Phase is the Welsh Government’s flagship early years education curriculum for children aged 3 - 7 years old. An important but neglected issue in the implementation of the Foundation Phase is the access that children have to the Foundation Phase curriculum before they enter the reception year in primary schools. Local authorities in Wales are required to ensure that all three - four year old children can access a minimum of ten free hours a week of early years education. At present, this free pre-school education is provided by a myriad of venues and settings, including maintained and non-maintained settings, private nurseries, Welsh language nurseries, playgroups and so on. It has been suggested that the current way the Foundation Phase is organized and provided for nursery aged pre-school children may potentially be a barrier to the uptake of these free nursery places (and is therefore ultimately limiting access to the Foundation Phase for pre-nursery aged children). Subsequently, the Welsh Government is currently piloting flexible provision of early years education across four local authorities: Denbighshire; Newport; Carmarthenshire and Neath-Port Talbot. This is driven by the overarching aim of increasing participation in the early years of the Foundation Phase.  Each local authority participating in the flexible provision pilot is exploring different ways of facilitating greater access to the early years of the Foundation Phase, and my role at WISERD is to work with Dr Mirain Rhys in researching the varied ways in which local authorities in Wales are providing flexible, pre-school access to the Foundation Phase.

In addition to my research on the flexibility pilot, I am currently designing surveys for the fifth sweep of the WISERD Education cohort study as well as conducting qualitative research on the Pupil Deprivation Grant in Wales alongside IPSOS MORI.

I received a BSc in International Relations at Aberystwyth University (2006) before undertaking an MSc in Political Theory at Cardiff University (2007). I received my PhD in October 2014 from Bangor University under the supervision of Professor Howard Davis and Graham Day. My Doctorate was an ethnographic analysis of Welsh identity in ‘British Wales’, focusing on my home town of Porthcawl. This analysis of local place was set against a Gramscian theoretical framework whereby I conceptualized Welsh devolution as a process of passive revolution.

Research Interests

My primary research interests are as follows: Welsh devolution and the political economy of Wales; The political thought of Antonio Gramsci; Ethnography and ethnographic methods; Pierre Bourdieu and everyday class analysis; Welsh national identity and everyday ethnicity; Place, belonging and the role of material culture; Marxist and other critical perspectives on education.

Current Research

Outside my research on Welsh education, I am presently writing a book for the University of Wales Press which explores the themes which arose in my PhD, namely the work of Antonio Gramsci, in particular his concept of passive revolution and its relevance to Wales and the UK. In addition to this, I am keen to further explore Bourdieu’s work on distinction and how this concept can help us understand local place and regional identity. I am a committed public sociologist and regularly contribute articles on politics and sociology to numerous online blogs. I also run a podcast on Welsh politics called ‘Desolation Radio’

Evaluation of Foundation Phase Flexibility Pilots
Overview Supporting children in their early years is seen as central to reforms to improve educational standards and raise the educational achievement of children in Wales, particularly amongst children from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The distinct and nove
Research Team:
Chris Taylor (Cardiff University), Mirain Rhys (Cardiff Metropolitan University), Samuel Waldron, Daniel Evans (Cardiff University)
Overview WISERD Education has the potential to change the landscape of education research in Wales and will put Wales at the forefront of research capacity building developments in the UK and beyond. The main aims of the Programme are: to enhance the capacity to carry out hi
Research Team:
Sally Power (Cardiff University), Chris Taylor (Cardiff University), Gareth Rees (Cardiff University), Daniel Evans (Cardiff University), Constantino Dumangane Jr. (Cardiff University), Rhian Barrance (Cardiff University), Jennifer Hampton (Cardiff University)