Principles and Practice in the Foundation Stage

Author(s) Hamilton C, Haywood S, Gibbins S, McInnes K and Williams J
Publisher Learning Matters
Price 15
ISBN 1903300673
Reviewed by Sue Hammond
Canterbury Christ Church University College
Review published 1 December 2004

As the Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage is now a statutory extension to The National Curriculum, it seems fair to assume that there will soon be a plethora of books linked to it. The publishing industry must have been one of the greatest benefactors of the frequent additions and changes to primary education in recent years. However, it may also be fair to say that there is a need for sound, well-informed texts that help to raise awareness and understanding of this newly recognised, very distinctive curricular phase.

This text is a practical workbook aimed at students pursuing Childhood Studies or Early Years foundation degrees, and trainee teachers, for whom there is explicit, helpful, cross-referencing to the Professional Standards for Qualifying to Teach. Its fundamental tenet is that it sets the scene-by introducing core issues affecting early years practice-and then guides the reader to identify and develop their individual knowledge. The needs analysis tables, with their emphasis on collecting and dating evidence of progress, are of debatable benefit, but do reflect the current climate in education of measuring and charting learning.

Overall, this is a good basic text for introducing students to Foundation Stage teaching and pedagogical concerns. It is based on sound principles and makes close links throughout to recent research and thinking, as well as the Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage. The suggestions for additional reading are particularly useful because they direct the reader to specific, deeper texts for enhancing knowledge of this area of study. The work of Bruce, Athey, Moyles, Duffy, and Craft are some of the respected educationalists to whom the trainee is referred. The examples of children's play and learning are another strong feature and could provide interesting scenarios for discussion and analysis. There is also helpful guidance on developing complex skills such as identifying when to intervene in children's play.

This text is a useful adjunct that makes easy reading, although greater detail would have been appropriate in places. The pioneers of early years education, such as Montessori, Steiner and Froebel, for example, received a collective reference without distinguishing between their pedagogies or influence.