Welsh Government, Social Research Number: 38/2016

In this report we present a technical discussion of the three year evaluation (August 2011 to August 2014). This includes an outline of the evaluation design, the methods used in the evaluation and other detailed information about the evaluation. 2. The Foundation Phase is a Welsh Government flagship policy of early years education (for 3 to 7-year old children) in Wales. Marking a radical departure from the more formal, competency-based approach associated with the previous Key Stage 1 National Curriculum, it advocates a developmental, experiential, play-based approach to teaching and learning. The policy has been progressively ‘rolled out’ over the last seven years so that by 2011/12 it included all 3 to 7-yearolds in Wales. 3.

In April 2011 the Welsh Government, on behalf of Welsh Ministers, invited tenders for a three-year independent evaluation of the Foundation Phase. Following a competitive tender process, a multidisciplinary team of researchers, led by Professor Chris Taylor from Cardiff University and the Wales Institute of Social & EconomicResearch, Data & Methods (WISERD), were appointed to undertake the evaluation in July 2011. 4.

The three year evaluation (2011-2014) has four main aims, as outlined by the Welsh Government in its original research tender specification: to evaluate how well the Foundation Phase is being implemented and highlight ways in which improvement can be made (the process evaluation); to evaluate what impact the Foundation Phase has had to date (the outcome evaluation); to assess the value for money of the Foundation Phase (the economic evaluation); and 6 to put in place an evaluation framework for the future tracking of outputs and outcomes of the Foundation Phase (the evaluation framework). 5.

There have been three main annual reports. The first annual report of the evaluation for 2011/12 (Taylor et al. 2013) sets out the work of the evaluation during its first year and provides a summary of the research and findings from Stage I of the evaluation design. The second annual the evaluation and the methods used in Stage II of the evaluation design. The third and final report (Taylor et al. 2015a) provides asummary of the whole evaluation and presents the key findings and recommendations. 6. This report draws together these three reports to set out the methodology and methods used across all three years of the evaluationof the Foundation Phase.