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Functional Skills qualifications support the development of practical skills in English, maths and ICT, and are designed to help learners gain the most out of work, education and everyday life. There's a strong focus on explanation and problem-solving, with a choice of paper assessment or on-screen, on-demand assessment.
We’re delighted to see the recognition of Functional Skills in the recent ETF report and that the traditional learning approach leading to GCSEs, can for some students present real problems often leading to disappointing results. Their findings echo our own experience of speaking to stakeholders about Functional Skills qualifications.
We have long been arguing that there needs to be an alternative to GCSE, one that suits greater contextualisation in delivery and supports the type of practical application of maths and English that is needed in the work place.
So we are particularly pleased to see in the report that Functional Skills are recognised as an alternative to GCSE rather than a stepping stone to it and are emerging as qualifications that are valued by employers & learners as well as the education and training sector.
We are pleased to say that the Thematic Review of our Functional Skills Level 2 maths did not result in us having to make any major changes that affect centres in their teaching and learning.
Centres may be interested to know that Ofqual made an observation that in one of our Functional Skills Level 2 maths papers there was more than the usual amount of reading for candidates. The paper concerned was already scheduled for withdrawal.
We use language experts in the writing and production of all FS maths assessment material to make sure that we keep the literacy requirements to the appropriate level.
The Thematic Review also highlighted that some candidates were not using the full range of checking techniques available to them. We've reviewed our Guidance for candidates and centres, and we've extended and exemplified the guidance on checking. We hope that centres will act on the new guidance, resulting in more candidates achieving full marks for checking and higher attainment rates.
Supporting English and maths skills is a priority for us and we welcome another review of Functional Skills which will take place at the beginning of 2016.
Further details of the review are available from The Education and Training Foundation.
We are looking forward to contributing to the consultation with input based on customer feedback and our own research, along with our wide experience in qualification development and awarding. We welcome further thoughts and ideas from our customers on this important consultation.
If you have any comments or questions please contact Susan Salter, Sector Specialist in English and maths.
Our Functional Skills in ICT have been developed so they can now be assessed using ‘in-app’ technology offering tests in a completely 100% non-simulated environment.
Learn more about e-testing and how to get started