Thursday, 7 July 2016

Reform Programme for Functional Skills

Functional Skills Reform Programme
Continuing to the next stage of the Functional Skills Reform Programme, ETF launch the consultation on the draft revised Standards for literacy and numeracy. These draft Standards will be available for feedback from 4th – 25th July.

The questionnaire and a link to both sets of Standards (along with FAQs) are available here: Participation from anyone with an interest in Functional Skills qualifications is welcomed by ETF and PyeTait.

I've read them and what jumps out to me is the extensive "real-life" nature of the examples given and the detail by which the standards are described.

It does show that Functional Skills reform programme is progressing well and I'm confident we'll end up with a rigorous, up to date and valuable set of qualifications moving forward.
Ofsted video about skills development in apprenticeships
Janet Rodgers, Ofsted's National Lead for Apprenticeships talks about developing skills on apprenticeships.

This video is part of a series from Ofsted's national leads, focusing on their specialisms and key issues in these areas

Monday, 4 July 2016

Videos supporting maths and English skills GCSE and Functional Skills

Videos supporting learners in Functional Skills
Probability supporting maths level 1/2 and GCSE.

Writing a letter supporting English level 2 and GCSE - starts with a 2 minute clip from a real telephone complaint.

Possessive apostrophes supporting English at level 2 and GCSE.

Areas of different shapes supporting maths at level 2 and GCSE.

Complex sentences supporting English and entry 3 and level 1.

@if functions in Excel supporting ICT at level 2.

Negative numbers supporting maths at level 1 and level 2.

Suffixes supporting English at Entry 2 and Entry 3.

And finally, a slightly different take on how maths can be used to solve real life problems. This video is from the hugely entertaining and informative TED TALKS that last around 18 minutes. It looks at the maths behind dating with three top tips!

Monday, 20 June 2016

Ofsted focus on English and maths

Ofsted focus on maths and English

FE carry some very interesting data this week about the focus on maths and English applied by Ofsted in their FE inspections and how this is affecting "grades".

The number of inspections since September is up 25% to 51, with data researched by FE Week showing that almost 20% of Colleges have been given Grade 4 - inadequate.

And the major cause in many cases is maths and English. The full article makes an interesting read.

We also noticed a piece on the BBC Education website which raised a smile. I'm not certain how relevant it is the majority of law abiding hard working people in the UK, but the underlying message is very clear. We won't say more, except click here. 

Traineeships and the digital economy

Traineeships and the digital economy

It's generally accepted that Traineeships haven't had the impact that we all thought they would.

Less than 10% of 19-24 year olds who completed a traineeship then went onto to an apprenticeship, a figure that certainly shocked me.

This week, FE Week carries an analysis of research into some of the key reasons why.

Traineeships may be missing the point, on a similar theme; a BBC report about the digital economy also indicates issues.

Whilst 90% of all jobs require "digital skills to some degree", 12.6 million adults lack basic skills and 5.8 million have never used the internet at all.

"Digital exclusion has no place in 21st Century Britain," the Commons Science and Technology Committee said. "While the government is to be commended for the actions taken so far... stubborn digital exclusion and systemic problems with digital education and training need to be addressed as a matter of urgency in the government's forthcoming digital strategy," it continued.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Edition 226 newsletter


Where are traineeships heading? News that less than 10% of 19-24 year olds who complete a traineeship, subsequently progress to an apprenticeship is putting the programme under threat with calls for a review of the programme.

After three years of reform, says Baroness Wolf in her evidence to the Commons committee on education & skills. She suggested that the focus on numbers was holding back reform of the process.

Students aged 16-18 with a grade D GCSE on study programmes will have two more chances to re-sit their "old style" GCSE in 2016/17 after the SFA confirmed an additional re-sit window for June 2017. Students who are genuinely on courses to progress their skills will continue to be funded, but those simply re-sitting exams will not.

The impact of the levy will affect SMEs too. The government is introducing a new Apprenticeship Levy from April 2017, which will affect larger businesses and require smaller firms to make upfront cash payments for training. Under government proposals, any smaller company with around 110 or fewer staff, who don’t pay the levy, will find themselves having to pay thousands of pounds up front for each apprentice they take on to cover the cost of accredited training.

Schools are worried too about the new maths GCSE. Half way through the teaching programme for the new cohort, Professor Anne Watson has said "that while the eventual plan is for a “more numerate population” her “expectation is that first of all there is likely to be a mess due to the scale and pace of the imposed change.”

Support materials for ForSkills customers

Support materials from ForSkills

These are all available to everyone, old customers, new customers and non-customers alike.

Paper based initial assessment booklets for maths, English and ICT costing £1 each.

Paper based screeners for maths, English and ICT costing 30p each.

A3 learner journey posters that are available free of charge on request.

Report of the results of the 2016 maths and English survey, free on request.

Published research report - The positive effects of using e-learning resources on the success rates and progression of learners, free on request.

A wide range of free videos accessed via the ForSkills YouTube channel.

Get in touch. If there's anything you'd like.

Friday, 27 May 2016

edition 225 of the newsletter

This week we focus on videos, specifically videos that help learners and tutors with Functional Skills. We've chosen three examples for maths (Pythagoras), English (Implicit meaning) and ICT (@if functions) and made them all available on the ForSkills YouTube channel.

Also this week, we have a couple of links to some interesting apprenticeships articles. Next week, I get a break as for many (including me) it's holiday time - back mid-June!

ForSkills YouTube Channel - click to subscribe. 70,000+ views, 100+ videos with over 100,000 minutes watched and a fast growing subscriber list, and it's all free - what's not to like?

As always, feel free to contact Jonathan Wells, the editor of this newsletter on 0191 3055045 or

World class apprenticeships

An academic research report by Mieschbuehler, R. and Hooley, T of the University of Derby has been published.

The aim of this research was to identify world-class apprenticeship standards and to make suggestions as to how these could be applied to the English system.

By ‘world class’ we mean that the standards described are acknowledged to be among the best in the world. Thirteen indicators for world-class apprenticeship standards were identified through the research and these have been divided into four sub-sections: (1) training, (2) skills and expertise, (3) recognition and (4) progression

Click here to access the report.

Oliver Trailor of Runway Training posted an article on LinkedIn about his experiences of Apprenticeships - just a page or two and worth a look.