Welsh in the Foundation Phase: Developing Welsh as a first language in primary schools and the non-maintained sector - December 2013

Summary

The purpose of the report is to: report on the standards of speaking, reading and writing in Welsh in the Foundation Phase in Welsh-medium schools and non-maintained settings; consider the differences between schools which have a high percentage of pupils from Welsh-speaking homes, schools with a high percentage of pupils who do not come from Welsh-speaking homes, and schools where there is a mixed population in terms of the language of the home; and consider the balance between the need for formal education to develop language, and providing the opportunities for play and informal activities which are part of the philosophy and operation of the Foundation Phase.
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Recommendations

Schools and settings should:

  • ensure specific opportunities for pupils to develop and use their speaking, reading and writing skills across areas of learning and in different activity areas;
  • ensure an effective balance between formal sessions to teach and reinforce language skills and informal opportunities to use them;
  • develop learning activities and experiences which ensure that pupils from different linguistic backgrounds make appropriate progress from their starting point;
  • set clear expectations which will ensure that pupils from all backgrounds use the Welsh language as they pursue informal activities, particularly at the beginning of the Foundation Phase;
  • set clear expectations for practitioners with regards to using the Welsh language in the Foundation Phase so as they introduce and model a good standard of Welsh to their pupils across areas of learning;
  • track progress in pupils’ speaking, reading and writing skills consistently throughout the Foundation Phase; and
  • give appropriate attention to quality of provision and standards in the Foundation Phase as part of self-evaluation processes and improvement planning in schools and settings.

Local authorities and organisations which manage non-maintained settings should:

  • provide support and training for practitioners on immersion methods of language learning and provide guidance on how language, literacy and communication skills (Welsh) can be developed in a way which is compatible with the philosophy and methodology of the Foundation Phase;
  • provide training and support for practitioners, including assistants, to improve their Welsh, where necessary;
  • share good practice in terms of developing language, literacy and communication skills (Welsh) across areas of learning and activity areas in the Foundation Phase; and
  • ensure that local authority support provision for Welsh-medium non-maintained settings is available in Welsh.

The Welsh Government should:

  • ensure that authorities and schools understand the relationship between the methodology and philosophy of the Foundation Phase and the Literacy and Numeracy Framework.