Functional Skills Revision

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Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Week of May 13th English and maths newsletter

This week's newsletter has a brief political update taking into account post election announcements and news about the international comparison OECD "PISA" tests and where the UK sits in comparison.
We also have news of a new e-learning hours report that came about as a result of a customer request and some great free stuff from ForSkills - learner journey posters for English and maths. 
And free videos this week - mean & range plus @if functions - our first free ICT video. 
As always, feel free to contact Jonathan Wells, the editor of this newsletter on 0191 3055045 or

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

In the news

In this week's newsletter we have a really good summary of all the major parties manifesto positions in this sector written and published by AELP.  At just 8 pages long,it details all the promises by policy area.
Learning at Work Week is nearly here too - also this week is a new feature - about "features".  In the coming weeks we'll cover additional areas such as GCSE assessment, e-learning hours reports and learner progression analysis. This week we start with spiky profiles!
And did you win - the results of the £250,000+ e-portfolio prize draw!  

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

Thursday, 30 April 2015

e-portfolio competition winners

We had a wonderful response to the ForSkills £250,000+ e-portfolio prize draw.  By now, every winner should have received an email from detailing their prize and how to claim it.  And even if you didn’t win, please still  do look out for an email with a great offer.

Winners from the FE sector include (in no particular order) City and Islington, Uxbridge, Epping Forest, Banbury & Bicester, Central Sussex, Liverpool, Oxford, Highlands, Mid Kent, Peterborough, Westminster Kingsway, Newcastle under Lyme, Bromley, Chesterfield, Guernsey, South Cheshire, Cirencester, Cornwall and Wakefield.

Winners from the WBL sector include (again in no particular order) Circa 2007, Qube, Chameleon, BT, GAP, Middleton Murray, Alliance, Need2Succeed, Focus, Fortitude, ESG Group, TBG Learning, Training Associates, Smart T&R and Aspiration.

Congratulations to all and many thanks to everyone who took part – we enjoyed it so much there’s a very good chance we’ll do it again too!

SFA approved quals - Functional Skills

SFA approved qualifications for 2015/16

The SFA has published a list of more than 3000 qualifications including 180 Functional Skills qualifications from Awarding Organisations including new entrants into the market VTVT and Ascentis.  The new list is under the new simplified Funding Regime which essentially means that funding (subject to employer contribution) is:

£941 for Functional Skills Entry Level maths
£724 for all Functional Skills English and Level  1/2 maths
£336 for all Functional Skills ICT
£811 for GCSE (9-1) Maths and English Language
£811 for GCSE (A*-C) maths and English variants

A little tip to make it easy to find things.  I use Excel and highlighted the main database (A3:S3218). Then choose data from the top menu and then filter.  This adds a filter to each column and by clicking on the icon at the top of each column, you can see all the column entries and filter immediately to find what you're interested in.  Hope this helps.   

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Is 63% pass rate bad?

It isn't in my view, it shows that things are working the way they should be and that Functional Skills has rigour and isn’t the easy option.

Lets be clear about the process too, learners are almost always entered at the level above that indicated by an initial assessment so 63% clearly shows progression - often in a few months instead of 2 years - our research shows an average time from initial assessment to qualification of about 8 months.
Compared to GCSE where the re-sit pass rate for the same group of 16-19 year olds is about 7% – Functional Skills 63% first time pass rate shows a significant improvement.
And unlike GCSE which has just two windows of opportunity per year, Functional Skills can be re-taken pretty much on demand.  63% is the first time pass rate, I believe the stats show that this increases to more than 80% when further attempts are included.
Functional Skills is the qualification of choice for employers - something that the ETF results showed recently.

So lets celebrate significant progress instead of wondering why not everyone passes - Functional Skills isn't Key Skills!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015


EFL, ESOL, ESL learners?
Do you support learners in ESOL and related areas?  Have you seen these digital graded readers for EFL, ESL and ESOL - a solution that is a little different for your ESOL learners.
Read Listen Learn is an online extensive reading service that helps teachers/tutors run reading projects so learners can enjoy improving their English by reading for pleasure.
The service is based on a digital library of over 150 graded readers, including fiction adapted from works by authors from places as diverse as the UK, the US, Russia and India and non-fiction articles on subjects including history, science, crime and sport.  New titles are added regularly; they are all illustrated and include glossaries and social tools to aid collaboration. Activity is tracked and available to enable progress monitoring.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

If I was Skills Minister then .....

If I was Minister for Skills looking after post 16 English, maths and Functional Skills,then after the election I would ...... have your say here.