Exploring the Role of Schemas within the Welsh Foundation Phase Curriculum

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This study explores children’s schemas in the play-based Foundation Phase (FP) curriculum in Wales between 2012 and 2015. It uses detailed narrative observations, interviews, questionnaires and photographs to represent how children, aged between three to five years in the FP, used their schemas to develop their knowledge and understanding. An important focus of the research was to establish the developmental needs of practitioners working in the FP in terms of their knowledge of schemas.

    The literature review critiques the constructivist theories of Piaget (1953, 1969, 1972) and Vygotsky (1978), previous key studies into schemas and how schemas can be supported in play-based curricula. The findings are presented as written narratives of the children’s lived experiences using their schemas over two terms in one FP setting in South Wales. Drawing on the work of Piaget (1953, 1969, 1972); Athey (1990, 2007); Meade and Cubey (2008); Arnold et al. (2010); Nutbrown (2011) and Atherton and Nutbrown (2013) the observations and photographs are interpreted and analysed schematically and links are made to FP curriculum areas of learning and FP outcomes. It explores FP stakeholders’ perceptions of schemas through the analysis of questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. Ethical considerations were taken into account. Consent and assent was sought from the setting, and all stakeholders involved in the research.

    Findings indicate that there is a lack of knowledge and understanding of how schemas can support learning and development by FP stakeholders across South East Wales. Therefore this research, as well as highlighting how schemas can support children’s knowledge and development within the FP curriculum, argues for the inclusion of schemas within FP training, policy and practice. This thesis contributes new and original knowledge by revealing how children’s particular schemas can be supported across areas of learning and provision within the Welsh FP curriculum. A further contribution for FP practitioners has been the development of a working suite of tools to support the informed use of schemas in early years settings.
    Date of AwardJun 2018
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorCatherine Jones (Supervisor), Kevin Crowley (Supervisor) & Karen McInnes (Supervisor)

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