Functional Skills Revision

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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Select Committee Report into Adult Literacy and Numeracy

Another Nick Boles video - this time the Government's response to the adult literacy and numeracy report
Watch Nick Boles talking about the Government's response to the Commons Select Committee Adult Literacy and Numeracy Report.  
Also on this link is the full pdf report detailing all the evidence.  A couple of things that really drew my attention was that the Army is highlighted for the excellent way in which it delivers Functional Skills (ForSkills and Guroo are delighted to be key suppliers to the Army too).  The committee also noted in the conclusion:
  • "We reject the blanket acceptance that GCSEs in English and Maths are the gold standard by which schemes and attainment are measured. GCSEs are not always the most appropriate qualification for adults to work towards"
  • "There is no silver bullet to solve the issue of adult literacy and numeracy"
  • "Also, there needs to be better assessment of the skills that adults have, when they claim unemployment benefit. That is an ideal opportunity to ensure that claimants are assessed for the skills they need to get a job rather than merely their eligibility for benefits."
  • "We are encouraged by the deep commitment and achievements of those engaged in adult learning, but are disturbed by the examples of reductions in Government funding for various schemes, which has caused concern and instability for learners and learning providers alike. This is a short-sighted financial saving which will result in long term costs, as any reduction in provision can only make it harder for adults with limited literacy and numeracy skills to gain employment."

A major advance for e-portfolios

A major advance for e-portfolios
We have advance information from ForSkills that SkillsPortfolio, a “full service” e-portfolio system that manages the complete learner journey and progression is being comprehensively upgraded and enhanced for January. It is a direct competitor to OneFile and Smart Assessor replacing paperwork driven systems and is fully compliant with Ofsted and SFA/EFA audit requirements.
Unique in the market, and representing a major cost saving, SkillsPortfolio will come with a complete range of assessment, diagnostic and resources from ForSkills/Guroo covering all aspects of English and maths, an essential part of every learner’s programme.

More next month ....... if you can't wait till then, have a quick look at this 1 minute introduction video.

Adult Literacy and Numeracy Government response

"We reject the blanket acceptance that GCSEs in English and Maths are the gold standard by which schemes and attainment are measured. GCSEs are not always the most appropriate qualification for adults to work towards"
Extract from the conclusions - Select Committee Report on Adult Literacy and Numeracy.

Couldn't agree more - Functional Skills are almost always the most appropriate!

Friday, 5 December 2014

The latest on Functional Skills Dec 14

What's happening with Functional Skills?
Looking at Nick Boles' latest AoC speech gives us the best clue.  
"Those who lack a basic mastery of English and Maths lack the means to navigate successfully through the modern world.
I do understand however that it is not practical or fair to impose the same requirements (as those on full time courses) on students taking courses of less than 150 hours – who are often young carers with a lot on their plates already. While we expect them to receive English and Maths tuition as part of their course, we will be waiving the requirement for them to study for standalone qualifications.
Where I have found your arguments more persuasive is in relation to those students who have not secured D grades in English and Maths GCSEs – and who are unlikely to be retaking their GCSEs while they are at college. I believe it is vitally important that we offer them alternative qualifications that are high quality, consistent, understood by parents, and respected by employers. As you know, Ofqual is undertaking a review of functional skills qualifications and I eagerly await their findings.
The DfE briefing note confirms this by posing the question "Will functional skills be scrapped?"
"No, Functional Skills qualifications will continue to be available for 16-19 students as a ‘stepping stone’ to GCSEs, in apprenticeships and for adults.
Ofqual is currently reviewing Level 2 English and maths functional skills qualifications, and will recommend action to improve these qualifications. This is likely to lead to changes to some Functional Skills qualifications in the short to medium term. Awarding organisations will work with their centres to communicate and explain these changes and what they mean for teachers and students."
So Functional Skills are being reviewed by Ofqual to ensure quality, rigour, understanding, consistency and respect. 

The definitive guide to English and maths at post-16

Post 16 English and maths - the definitive* guide
Choice of qualifications - there are three qualification routes for English and maths that are funded.
  • 2015 spec GCSE graded 9-1 with grade 4 broadly equivalent to current C
  • 2012 spec GCSE or iGCSE graded A*-G
  • Functional Skills at all levels
For all learners with an existing grade E or below - open choice with Functional Skills expected to be chosen by the vast majority of learners.
For all apprenticeships and traineeships irrespective of existing grades - open choice with Functional Skills expected to be chosen by the vast majority of learners as exam windows for GCSE are so restricted at 2 per year.
For all adults 19+ irrespective of existing grades - open choice of Functional Skills or GCSE.
Learners on all courses of less than 150 hours - should study maths and English but qualification is not specified.
Learners starting now on all full time courses with an existing grade D are expected to follow 2012 GCSE. This is guidance, not a funding requirement.
Learners starting Sept 2015 on one year full time courses with an existing grade D are expected to follow 2012 GCSE.  This is a funding requirement.
Learners starting Sept 2015 on two year full time courses with an existing grade D are expected to follow 2015 GCSE. This is a funding requirement.

*until the next policy speech, election or Government interpretation.  Excludes specific course rules such as EYE and pathfinder apprenticeships

Links to useful video and webinar recordings for Functional Skills

Useful tutorial and practical videos
ForU Functional Skills Exam success in English writing
ForU Functional Skills Exam success in English reading
ForU Functional Skills Exam success in maths
ForU Functional Skills Fractions tutorial (Maths E3)
ForU Functional Skills Punctuation tutorial (English L2)
ForU Functional Skills Maths learner journey
ForU Functional Skills English learner journey
ForSkills "How to" videos
Recorded training and information webinars
All previous webinars are recorded and available anytime for playback - login as a guest and the password is password.  Simply click on the links below and don’t forget, if you’d like to have your own 1:1 webinar looking at how ForSkills/Guroo can help you support Functional Skills, just call us on 0191 305 5045 or email info@guroo.co.uk and we’ll take it from there.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Evidencing e-learning hours in maths and English

Evidencing e-learning hours
One part of the e-learning conversation is the percentage of time that learners can/should/do spend using on-line learning.  This is a subject that has been raised by Feltag who recommended (October 2013) that a portion of funding is allocated according to the amount of e-learning content in publically funded programmes.
At For Skills/Guroo, we've been doing quite a lot of research on behalf of customers into e-learning use for English and maths we've come up with some interesting stats.
  • For Skills and Guroo customers collectively recorded 3 million hours of e-learning
  • The marginal cost of e-learning delivery is significantly less than £1 per learner hour
  • "Upper quartile" users of e-learning in maths and English target 5 hours in assessment/review with an additional 15 hours for e-learning resource use

SkillsPortfolio - the UK's best regarded and most cost effective "full service" e-portfolio solution - is perfect for tracking e-learning usage across all qualifications, not just English and maths.