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Thursday, 16 October 2014

Functional Skills Newsletter Oct 15th

The Functional Skills Newsletter for October 15th
Lots of news about support for Functional Skills this week, we've done our best to summarise the key parts but suffice to say that the Government sees Functional Skills as the key complimentary qualification in English and maths to GCSE.   Sure, there's work to do to refresh and update Functional Skills, but we think this is a great opportunity and we fully support it at Guroo.
Have your say in the 2014 Annual Survey - there is a free text question at the end where you can add your comments and thoughts and apart from the initial 4 "demographic" questions, there are none you have to answer, we make a contribution to your choice of charity and you can personally win a new tablet if you leave us your name and email address.  Click here to contribute.
As well as Government support and surveys, there's also a very busy events and conference season, we have details of all the key events below.
As always, we aim to send this newsletter out every two weeks, your comments and thoughts are always appreciated - let us know what you'd like us to cover in the newsletter by emailing the editor -
Government Support for Functional Skills
The Government has always maintained it has supported Functional Skills, but reality, mostly emanating from DfE under Gove, was that GCSE was heavily promoted by DfE and BIS had to fall in behind - until now. Nick Boles, the new Minister of State for Skills for both DfE and DBIS has provided clear, unambiguous support for Functional Skills.  FE Week has had some great coverage recently starting with the first announcement at the Conservative Party conference.
This has been followed up a week later with a letter from the Minister to Ofqual in which he said “Functional Skills will continue to be one of the types of qualification that learners have available to them as they progress towards GCSE attainment. For students that are not able to achieve a GCSE they must provide a reliable test of their literacy and numeracy skills."  
Roger Francis, well respected commentator on issues about maths and English in the sector, then put forward his views in another FE week piece - and very sound views they are too.
And in the same week, we then had a call from those involved in the early years qualifications that Functional Skills should be re-called.  It was the announcement by Gove about this qualification requiring GCSE passes on entry that started speculation.
Have your say.  The annual survey is also running now and the last question is a free text question where you can have your your say - simply click here to take part.

Events, exhibitions and conferences
The autumn is always a busy time of the year with lots of events on, here are just a few that Guroo are involved in.
Developing skills to deliver English, maths and ESOL - organised by EMSkills and located in Derby on October 23rd.  Always popular and informative, with good support from all suppliers and a range of expert speakers. Jonathan Wells of Guroo is chairing this event.
Meeting new standards in teaching, learning and assessment - organised by Optimus education, located in Birmingham on 27th November.
Apprenticeships4England, a major event and one not be missed is in London on March 3/4 and open for bookings now.  Guroo is a key supporter and sponsor of this event and the headline speaker is of course Nick Boles, Minister for Skills.
The AELP Autumn Conference including a key theme of English and maths changes in employment and skills programmes - 15th October in Birmingham and Guroo is on stand 8.

Please complete the 2014 Functional Skills Annual Survey
It's the fourth year of this important survey, around 20 questions, about 15 minutes of your time, and apart from the first few demographic questions, none of them are "must complete". So you can take your time, skip the ones you don't know about, but get your opinion in on the ones you do.  The results are published widely, we know they influence policy so have your say now!
The survey is completely confidential, you do not need to leave your name, but if you do, you could win a new Galaxy Tab 3 and every participant can nominate one of four charities to receive a donation.  Please take a few minutes to contribute.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Functional Skills confirmed by Government 

Government confirms that GCSE isn't right for everyone, re-affirming Functional Skills as the route of choice for vocational learners.

FE Week exclusive.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

2014 Functional Skills Annual Survey

Please take 15 minutes to complete this years Functional Skills Annual Survey.  It's similar to previous years,we don't insist you answer every question and it's completely confidential - make your views count - the results of the survey are published widely.

Isn't that a cool stand at World of Learning

Guroo Assessment and Skills on J20 - 30 Sept and 1 Oct.
Everything you need for Functional Skills and GCSE assessment, diagnostics, resources and exam practice in maths and English.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

English and maths in the news

English and maths in the news - Ofsted, BBC, Business Select Committee.

A number of articles have appeared over the last few days all to do with improving the quality and quantity of English and maths teaching for post-16 learners.

The Commons Business Select Committee reported that an "alarmingly high" proportion of adults in England lacked a good grasp of reading, writing and maths.  Suggestions made included assessing the the English and maths skills of jobseekers "at the earliest possible stage of unemployment benefit claims" to provide an "an ideal opportunity to inform people of training available to help them gain the vital skills they need."  
So although the Government has pledged free training for any adult up to GCSE, those with limited skills in core areas are often excluded as they are not aware this support exists.

The quality of teaching in English and maths is not good enough, careers guidance is weak and local authorities aren't tracking progress effectively, according to Ofsted’s Director for Further Education and Skills, Lorna Fitzjohn.
On the subject of English and maths the report states "Although all of the providers surveyed are aware of the English and mathematics GCSE requirements of the 16 to 19 study programmes and understand and agree with their importance, very few of them met the requirements adequately, particularly FE colleges and independent learning providers. For example, far too many learners were on provision, often in functional skills, that was not higher than their prior attainment."  

Read about the Guardian's take on the same story here.

Events Autumn 2014

Events, exhibitions and conferences
The autumn is always a busy time of the year with lots of events on, here's just a few that Guroo are involved in.
Developing skills to deliver English, maths and ESOL - organised bscheduledy EMSkills and located in Derby on October 23rd. 
Meeting new standards in teaching, learning and assessment - organised by Optimus education, located in Birmingham on 27th November.
World of Learning exhibition - a key exhibition and conference at the NEC, Birmingham on 30 Sept/01 Oct.
The AELP Autumn Conference including a key theme of English and Maths Changes in Employment and Skills Programmes - 15th October in Birmingham
The e-vocational conference organised by Assessment Tomorrow and to be held in Leeds on 19th November

NIACE Consultation

Consultation on implementation of GCSE reforms for adults and apprentices

Don't forget to respond by Sept 30th - NIACE are managing a consultation process with a close date of September 30th about the issues surrounding effective implementation of the new 2015 GCSE qualifications for adults and apprentices.