Functional Skills Revision

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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.  

Functional Skills - stability is the watchword

Functional Skills - stability seems to be the watchword
After all the announcements, stability seems to be returning to English and maths provision now. Glenys Stacey (Ofqual Chief) has responded to Nick Boles (Skills Minister) and her message is that, whilst there is always some areas for improvement, stability is equally important and Functional Skills is viewed positively.
On a similar theme, Charlotte Bosworth (Director of skills & employment at OCR) also writing in FE Week, makes a convincing argument for Functional Skills over GCSE, again saying the case for re-branding is not clear.   
Our own findings relating to the name are below! 
And just a reminder that although we've already had nearly 200 responses to the 2014 Functional Skills Annual Survey - if you haven't done yours yet - please do it now.
What's in a name (re-brand)
With more than 100 responses making this survey result "significant" in statistical terms, the winner of the "choose a new name for Functional Skills" survey is:
1st   Functional Skills
2nd  Skills for Life
3rd   Essential Skills
4th   Skills for Work
Functional Skills was well out in front too, also rans in the name stakes in order of popularity were Everyday (Skills), Working, Vocational, Work, Practical, Crucial, Useful and Relevant with some votes also cast for Fun (Skills), Applied, Enabling, Living, Foundation, Core and Progression.
We also asked whether we should refer to Functional Skills as maths and English or something else and an overwhelming 80% chose English/maths over Literacy/Numeracy and numbers/words.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Nick Boles support for Functional Skills

2.5 minute video clip of Nick Boles talking about maths and English.

Good to know that Functional Skills and GCSE are the ONLY two routes for maths and English quals - For more, consult the ForSkills and Guroo websites.

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.