Find out about the CAPS Foundation Phase document

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The CAPS document for the Foundation Phase, published by the Department of Basic Education, contains all the guidance on the content and assessment requirements for the Foundation Phase subjects at schools in South Africa. This document is a critical resource for all new Foundation Phase teachers.

What does the CAPS document consist of?

The CAPS curriculum was introduced in 2013, with a ‘Strengthening of CAPS‘ released in 2017 and a ‘CAPS Amendment‘ in 2019. A more significant revision of the curriculum is expected in the coming years. The CAPS curriculum has a transformative aim for society, guided by the following principles:

  • ensuring that the educational imbalances of the past are redressed and that equal educational opportunities are provided for all sections of the population;
  • encouraging an active and critical approach to learning, rather than rote and uncritical learning of given truths;
  • the minimum standards of knowledge and skills to be achieved at each grade are specified and set high, achievable standards in all subjects;
  • content and context of each grade shows the progression from simple to complex; 
  • Infusing the principles and practices of social and environmental justice and human rights as defined in the Republic of South Africa Constitution. The National Curriculum Statement Grades r – 12 is sensitive to issues of diversity such as poverty, inequality, race, gender, language, age, disability and other factors; 
  • acknowledging the rich history and heritage of this country as significant contributors to nurturing the values contained in the Constitution; and
  • Providing an education that is comparable in quality, breadth and depth to those of other countries. 

While these principles are commendable, they do rely on implementation at a regional and school level. Here the teacher’s role is vital, and they are responsible for using these principles to guide their day to day teaching.

Each subject has its own CAPS document, covering all the content requirements per term, the assessment guidelines and any other information the teacher needs. The Foundation Phase teacher must know these documents thoroughly and have them on hand to refer to as needed.

The Foundation Phase section of the CAPs provides teachers with: 

How many subjects are in the Foundation Phase?

The Foundation Phase has four main subjects, with a fifth to be added in the coming years. These are:

What are Foundation Phase subjects?

Language (Home and First Additional)

In the Foundation Phase, the primary skills in the Home First Additional Language curriculum are: 

  • Listening and speaking 
  • Reading and phonics 
  • Writing and handwriting 
  • Thinking and Reasoning and Language Structure and Use, which are integrated into all four languages skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing)  

Life Skills

The Life Skills subject is central to the holistic development of learners. It is concerned with learners’ social, personal, intellectual, emotional and physical growth and how these are integrated. 

There are four study areas: 

  • Beginning Knowledge
  • Personal and Social Well-being
  • Creative Arts 
  • And Physical Education. 


The Foundation Phase Mathematics CAPS document teachers with:

  •  a definition of mathematics, 
  • specific aims, 
  • specific skills, 
  • the focus of content areas, 
  • the weighting of content areas, 
  • recommended resources for the Foundation Phase Mathematics lessons, 
  • Suggested guidelines on supporting learners with barriers to learning Mathematics, mental mathematics and enhancing the teaching of early numeracy skills. 

Coding and Robotics 

Coding and Robotics is a new subject that the Department of Basic Education is currently piloting. It will be implemented in 2023 in Foundation Phase classes. This subject is central to how learners will function in a digital and information-driven world. 

The Coding and Robotics Foundation Phase subject consist of the following Knowledge Strands: 

  • Pattern Recognition and Problem Solving 
  • Algorithms and Coding 
  • Robotic Skills 
  • Internet and E-Communication skills 
  • Application Skills

What does a Foundation Phase teacher do?

The Foundation Phase teachers are responsible for the following activities:

  • The preparation of lessons as per the CAPS curriculum requirements
  • Researching new teaching aids and support material such as textbooks
  • The development of each students’ interests and abilities through activities
  • Tracking the progress of each learner. Reporting this back to the parent or guardian as well as senior members of the school
  • Responsible for guiding and supervising work in class while retaining discipline (a sometimes difficult task with younger learners!
  • Maintain all records as required by the Department of Basic Education
  • Participate in staff meetings, parent-teacher conferences and other events as required
  • Fulfil assessment requirements such as conducting and marking tests

The Foundation Phase teacher’s role is varied and exciting but can also become overwhelming in larger classes. The suitable systems and processes need to be put in place early in a teacher’s career.

How do you teach reading in the Foundation Phase?

The strategy of Shared Reading is an excellent way to teach reading at the Foundation Phase. This strategy is an interactive reading experience that occurs when the learner joins in or share the reading of a book or other text while guided and supported by a teacher. The teacher explicitly models the skills of proficient readers, including reading with fluency and expression. The shared reading model often uses oversized books (referred to as big books) with enlarged print and illustrations.

Why use shared reading?

  • It provides struggling readers with the necessary support.
  • Shared reading of the predictable text can build sight word knowledge and reading fluency
  • Allows learners to enjoy materials that they may not be able to read on their own
  • Ensures that all learners feel successful by providing support to the entire group.

How do you assess Foundation Phase learners?

Use both informal and formal assessment at the Foundation Phase.

Informal assessment happens by observing oral, practical and written activities that the learner does independently, in a pair, or in a group. The teacher watches how the learners do their tasks, struggle with, and work together in a group or independently. Informal daily assessment tasks are not formally recorded unless the teacher wishes to do so. Lesson planning should incorporate such everyday assessment tasks and activities.

A formal assessment provides teachers with a systematic way of assessing and evaluating the learner’s progress. Formal assessment tasks need to be carefully planned, recorded, and reported in all three Learning Programmes (Literacy, Numeracy, Life Skills). Teachers should choose appropriate and relevant forms of assessment that suit all learners’ different learning styles and ability levels. The structure of the assessment should also be grade and age-appropriate.

Types of assessment in Foundation Phase

The main types of assessment at the Foundation Phase are:

  • observation by the teacher
  • oral discussions,
  • practical demonstrations
  • written recording.

What is ATP in education?

The DBE releases its Annual Teaching Plans (ATP) each year to guide teachers on what needs to be covered in the school year. For the past two years, these ATPs have been revised to include less content coverage due to the reduced teaching time as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and school closures.

Foundation Phase ATP

The Foundation Phase ATPs for 2021 can be downloaded here.

CAPS document Foundation Phase PDFs

Each subject has a CAPS document, which can be downloaded from this site as a PDF. Please download these here.

CAPS Foundation Phase lesson plans

The Western Cape Education Department has compiled some excellent lesson plans, which can be downloaded here.

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