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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.
During February, the Skills Funding Agency published their initial set of documents setting out the funding offer for 2016/17. While the context for the 2016/17 funding year is to break the link between funding and qualifications in order to set out a more flexible, locally-focussed offer, English and maths funding remains part of the legal entitlement and so remains directly linked to qualifications.
What will change from 1 August 2016?
Very little for English and maths. The Cambridge Progression Extended Awards are added to the offer, but all provision offered this year can be offered next year.
Why aren’t the Cambridge Progression units/Awards listed?
The legal entitlement list includes qualifications only.
SFA have confirmed that where qualifications are eligible for funding, they will make its components (including units) available. See page 8, section 24 of Qualification Eligibility Principles for further details. If you have any specific queries, please email our funding expert.
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.
In the Making maths and English work for all report by the Education and Training Foundation we were pleased to see Functional Skills recognised as an alternative to GCSE, rather than a stepping stone to it. They're emerging as qualifications that are valued by employers and learners, as well as the education and training sector.
Our Functional Skills are continuing as normal, but there are changes ahead.
The Education and Training Foundation are leading on the Functional Skills Reform Programme and have commissioned Pye Tait Consulting to review the skills standards and qualifications. Following this consultation, reformed Functional Skills qualifications should be available for first teaching in September 2018.
We will update you on the outcomes when they are published.
We have made some improvements to the Functional Skills Speaking, Listening and Communication (SLC) assessment forms. New versions of the assessor observation record forms are available for Entry Levels 1, 2 and 3 and Level 1 and Level 2. The administration process has not changed.
The existing forms will no longer be accepted for assessments after 31 August 2016.