An exploration of parental knowledge, understanding and expectations of the Foundation Stage of education in British Forces schools in Cyprus
The creation of the Foundation Stage of education for children aged three to five years in 2000 was a milestone in early years' education. It brought together a diverse range of provision for children below statutory school age with the reception classes in primary schools. As well as providing a curriculum for this stage, one of its many requirements is that practitioners must work to establish a partnership with the parents of the children they teach. Consequently, the relationship between parents and the practitioners, who teach their children, has become a focus of interest for me and others. In this study, I have tried to discover what parents' expectations are from the Foundation Stage. This exploration has delved into parents understanding of the Foundation Stage, what sort of education their children are receiving, what parents feel are appropriate methods by which young children learn, what sort of relationship they would like to have with their child's practitioner and what type and level of involvement they have in their children's education. Data has been collected through structured interviews with parents in two British Forces schools in Cyprus. Similar interviews were conducted with teachers who work with these children in school. The findings show that parents' expectations are largely being met by the education they are receiving. However, many parents are yet to view the Foundation Stage as one seamless stage of education, as a number of factors are working against this. Additionally, many parents would wish for greater involvement in their child's education and need to be supported to enable this to happen effectively. Recommendations are made for the development of parental partnerships through facilitating greater involvement in their children's education and in improving the quality of provision of Foundation Stage education in the focussed schools.