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Space to learn: an investigation of the Foundation Phase curriculum in early years' settings

Morgan, Sharman 2016. Space to learn: an investigation of the Foundation Phase curriculum in early years' settings. EdD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Early-years education in Wales is provided through a mixed economy of maintained and non-maintained settings. In 2008, the Foundation Phase curriculum was introduced for children aged 3-7 years. This research draws from Bernstein’s (1996, 2000) concept of recontextualisation and the thesis analyses two substantive areas to investigate how the curriculum is: produced, relocated and reproduced. The study occurred between 2012 and 2013 and included a range of methods. First, semi-structured interviews with four early years’ advisors who were involved in the initial stage of the pedagogy’s production generated insight into the challenges and complexities of knowledge transformation. These accounts introduce the various themes and theories appropriated, as the policy moved from its official domain of the State to be relocated, recontextualised and reproduced by twelve practitioners located across three preschool sites. The two non-maintained settings and one statutory setting provided variation, to investigate the structuration of the curriculum as positioned in the context of space, material culture and pedagogical practice. In view of the localised values and other embedded distinctions, exposed through interviews with the practitioners, the second part of the investigation focuses on the children. Findings, created through the administration of specially designed instruments, helped to investigate how thirty children interpret the Foundation Phase’s material culture and the spaces that they occupy, as part of their everyday preschool experiences. Drawing from research by Ivinson and Duveen (2005, 2006), the instruments included ten pictures, representing artefacts and spatial contexts that the children were already familiar with within their preschools. A series of tasks, administered through one-to-one interviews, helped to explore how children recognised and interpreted the material culture of the setting, as instantiated by the practitioners. The study also included over sixty hours of non-participant observations, to explore the children’s movements as they negotiated between the aesthetic, textural and positional layering of the curriculum’s indoor and outdoor spaces. Findings from the tasks and observations expose new concepts and contexts of preschool pedagogical experiences that are relevant for further investigation. This research has found that practitioners recontextualise and reproduce the Foundation Phase curriculum in relation to their values and beliefs in what the child’s development requires. These intentions become instantiated in the material culture of the setting and become recontextualised by the children, as part of their everyday preschool experience.

Item Type: Thesis (EdD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 4 May 2017
Date of Acceptance: 19 October 2016
Last Modified: 13 Dec 2021 16:40

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