Functional Skills are qualifications that enable learners to apply their skills in everyday life, and can be contextualised for individual study programmes. They are available in English, maths and ICT. There are five levels from Entry (which is sub-divided into three, and Levels 1 and Level 2. The assessment regime is flexible. Awarding organisations offer paper-based assessments, on-line assessments or a mixture of the two. Functional Skills have become the most widely used non-GCSE qualifications. Just over a million certificates were awarded in 2013/14 (Please see Department for Business Innovation and Skills’ Reforming Maths and English Functional Skills Qualifications: Questions and Answers document for a full list here).
The Education and Training Foundation is the independent sector-led body responsible for improving standards in further education and so is well placed to bring all parties with an interest together. It already works closely with sector organisations like the Association of Colleges and Association of Employment and Learning Providers, and with Ofqual and Ofsted. It is also responsible for improving vocational teaching and learning across the sector and can advise what is needed by employers and how these skills can best be integrated with vocational learning.
The Foundation has been involved in this work from the start, leading the ‘Making maths and English work for all’ review, which recommended that Functional Skills were not broken but that improvements could be made.
Pye Tait Consulting is a multi-disciplinary business consultancy providing expert services to the private, public and third sectors. In partnership with the Learning and Work Institute, we were commissioned and funded by the Education and Training Foundation as a Delivery Partner for Phase One of the Reform Programme. We were responsible for leading the consultation and engaging with employers, employer representative bodies, professional and industry bodies, teaching and training practitioners, and other interested parties in having a say on the Functional Skills Reform through various participative activities. The findings from this wide-ranging consultation were reported to the Foundation. Please click here for an update on the Reform Programme.
Pye Tait and Learning and Work Institute are continuing to support the Foundation during Phase 2, in developing Exemplar Curricula materials.
Please direct any questions about the Functional Skills Reform Programme to Pye Tait Consulting via firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01423 509433.