A £1 MILLION investment to develop the skills of Foundation Phase staff has been revealed by Education Secretary Kirsty Williams.

The funding, announced by Brecon and Radnorshire AM and Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language, Alun Davies, last week, aims to improve children’s experiences of the Foundation Phase in settings and schools across Wales.

It will be used to develop a Foundation Phase Excellence Network, which will support the sharing of effective practice and work closely with the National Networks of Excellence in Science and Technology and Mathematics, which are already being developed.

Recent independent evaluations have shown that where Foundation Phase is being implemented well, it is raising the attainment of all children, but highlighted the need for greater consistency of delivery.

The new excellence network will help strengthen the links between schools, settings, consortia and local authorities to universities to develop research on professional learning for Foundation Phase practitioners.

It will use global and local evidence to develop nationally recognised Foundation Phase professional learning for staff, and create Support Pioneer Network Schools in the development of and professional learning for the new curriculum.

Mr Davies said: “The evidence shows that the Foundation Phase is working for our youngest pupils, with the majority achieving the expected results for their age.

“I want to make sure we build on this progress and continue to support our young people through their early years to make sure they have the best start in life.

“This investment will help us develop the skills of those who teach the foundation phase, create new training opportunities and ensure there is consistency across Wales.

Ms Williams said: “The £1m for the Foundation Phase Excellence Network is part of our on-going investment to raise standards across our education system.

“We want to make sure our pupils have the skills and knowledge they need to succeed and thrive in the modern world.”