Grant holder
Dr Jennifer Clement, Cardiff Metropolitan University
Project status
In Progress

This project examines the three 'enablers' introduced by the Welsh Government in the new Curriculum for Wales 2022 (CfW) - and makes connections to Froebelian principles and practices.

"This research will form the beginnings of a solid foundation which will support all early years practitioners across Wales to theoretically engage with Froebelian principles and practices, giving them a way to theoretically and practically understand, evaluate and articulate their practices."
Dr Jennifer Clement and Sian Sarwar, research project leads

The Welsh Government has recently introduced three 'Enablers' to support the implementation and enactment of the new Curriculum for Wales (CfW):

  • Enabling Adults
  • Effective Environments
  • Engaging Experiences (WG, 2022).

The 3 enablers are particularly directed towards teachers and educators working within Early Years.

"Interested in bridging theory, policy and practice, this research will examine the relationship between the three enablers and Froebelian principles and practices (Bruce, 2012). It will initially focus on the apparent synergies of the role of the Enabling Adult to support “freedom with guidance” (Liebschner, 1992), by “observing, noticing and responding sensitively to learners” (WG, 2022).

The research team will also reflect on Effective Environments, both indoor and outdoor, which are “central to learners’ authentic experiences” and key to developing a “sense of belonging and appreciation of the world around them” (WG, 2022), thus drawing parallels with Froebel’s ideas of unity and connectedness (Froebel in Lilley, 1967).

Engaging Experiences which are to “promote learners’ independence, deep-level involvement and uninterrupted active learning … rooted in real-life, authentic situations” (WG, 2022), will be discussed alongside Froebel’s idea of Self-activity (Froebel, 1885). These initial discussions will support the ongoing exploration, explanation and evaluation of the three enablers through a Froebelian framing."
Dr Jennifer Clement and Sian Sarwar, project leads

This research will result in the creation of documentation which aligns the expectations set for adults, environments, and experiences with the practices underpinned by Froebelian principles - involving Occupations and the use of Froebel’s Gifts:

  • clay
  • woodwork
  • gardening
  • cooking
  • block play

Practitioners will, over a period of six months, observe and document children’s experiences. Once documented, the wider research team will come
together to evaluate how, considering their Froebelian framing, practitioners have implemented and enacted the three enablers across their settings.

As part of this project, over the course of 6 months, 4 settings (2 maintained and 2 non-maintained) will use the documentation created as part of the research to support the enactment of the 3 'enablers' through Froebel’s Gifts and Occupations. Each setting will purchase a set of Froebel’s gifts (1-10) and will also offer a mixture of gardening, woodwork, clay, cooking and block play. Practitioners will use pedagogical documentation to document what happens when the children, alongside their teachers, use Froebel’s Gifts and Occupations to support the implementation and enactment of the three enablers.

The research team will collate and present aspects of theory, policy and practice in three pamphlets demonstrating how effective environments, engaging experiences and enabling adults, when supported through a Froebelian framing, can be used to support children’s play and learning across the Curriculum for Wales.

"The aim of this project is to enhance children’s experiences within their early years education and care settings across Wales through the advancement and understanding of Froebelian principles and their importance for practitioners across Wales."
Dr Jennifer Clement and Sian Sarwar, project leads

This research will form an integral part of the initial work undertaken by Froebel Network Wales (FNW). A final report for this project will be shared here in July 2024.

About the research team

Dr Jennifer Clement is a Senior Lecturer in Teacher Education and Professional Learning working in the Cardiff School of Education and Social Policy at Cardiff Metropolitan University (CMU). Beginning her professional career as an early years teacher she taught in both national and international settings, across the 3-8 age range. Drawing on different pedagogical traditions and philosophies as both a teacher and academic researcher Jennifer has extensive experience of working with young children and as part of a research team. Jennifer completed a PhD in 2018 looking at democratic constructions of space, using Froebel’s communal gardens as her pedagogical blueprint (Clement, 2019). Her most recent research focuses on both the spaces created for young children to enact their participation rights across Curriculum for Wales (CfW) (Clement, 2022) and the spaces being created for practitioners to engage in Professional Enquiry as part of their new research informed professional role within CfW (Clement et al., in preparation).

Sian Sarwar
is a Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies and Programme Director for the BA (Hons) Primary Education Studies programme at CMU. Her research interests lie within curriculum and pedagogy, particularly in relation to curriculum development, enactment and accommodating and facilitating the participation rights of young children within their education. This interest is rooted in her involvement in the Musical Futures project (funded by The Paul Hamlyn Foundation), during which Sian worked collaboratively with teachers and children to embed ‘real world’ practices of popular musicians into classroom music lessons. The focus of Sian’s research outputs include: exploring free play in a woodland setting (Ellis et al., 2021); making use of school grounds beyond the school day (Mannello et al., 2019); and young children’s participation in education (Lewis et al., 2017). Her current research includes a grounded theory of young people’s participation in music (PhD thesis to be submitted in October, 2022).

Other Froebel Trust funded research by Dr Jennifer Clement

Exploring Froebelian Principles as a vehicle for curriculum reform

Spatially Democratic Pedagogy: A pedagogical intervention to support children’s design and co-creation of classroom space (PhD, 2018)