In 2001, the Welsh Assembly Government announced proposals for a Foundation Phase for children aged three to seven years. The Foundation Phase framework promotes a play-based approach to children’s learning in both indoor and outdoor contexts and places children’s well- being and their personal and social development at its core. While the framework is currently being piloted across Wales, full implementation will not take place until 2010; for many schools, then, this is a time of transition. This paper discusses the findings of a research project that aimed to document the current use of the outdoors by a group of early years teachers working in South Wales. Drawing on data from interviews and observations conducted in four schools, it is suggested that the teachers missed many of the opportunities afforded by the outdoor environment to enhance children’s learning. The paper considers the reasons why this might be the case and comments on the distinction, apparent in two schools, between what was seen as ‘normal’ and ‘special’ outdoor activity.
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