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Well-being and the early years curriculum: a case study of the Foundation Phase in Wales

Lewis, Alyson 2016. Well-being and the early years curriculum: a case study of the Foundation Phase in Wales. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis explores how the concept of well-being is understood and operationalised in the early years through examining the implementation of the Foundation Phase in Wales. In 2008, the Welsh Government presented well-being as one of seven Areas of Learning in the Foundation Phase, which is the statutory curriculum for 3-to-7 year olds. Despite the appealing interest of well-being within policy, very limited research focuses on understanding the nature of well-being in schools and the curriculum. Well-being is generally acknowledged as a complex concept and there are many different explanations. In addition, and despite the fast-growing interest in education there is little consensus about child well-being. Therefore, this study explores primary school practitioners’ knowledge and understanding of well-being and examines day-to-day classroom practices. This qualitative case study included eight focus groups, 21 practitioner interviews, as well as 342 hours of observations in two primary schools. Several Bernsteinian concepts are drawn upon in the analysis. Key findings suggest that practitioners are uncertain about the nature of well-being as well as operationalising and capturing well-being. The study reveals four different dimensions associated with the concept of well-being, and one unwarranted assumption shared by some practitioners about a child’s well-being and their socio-economic background. In addition, five different types of well-being practices are identified; four of these practices are integrated in nature and one of them is discretely delivered by adults. The study shows that criterion-referenced assessment is implemented in different ways, but practitioners encounter various difficulties when capturing children’s well-being. Practitioners also report that well-being assessment tools are missing helpful follow-up strategies. The thesis concludes by discussing ways of developing practitioners’ understanding of complex concepts such as well-being and pedagogy, and the longer term policy implications regarding the curriculum and assessment. Future directions about child well-being research are considered.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1501 Primary Education
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 8 March 2017
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2020 02:54

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