Improvements to Functional Skills ‘vital for learners and employers’

27 January 2015

The improvements that awarding organisations are making to current Functional Skills qualifications have been highlighted in a report published by Ofqual today.

These changes, Ofqual believes, will make sure that the qualifications are high quality and that standards are consistent. Ofqual wants Functional Skills qualifications to better reflect the achievements of students and more effectively meet employers’ needs.

Responding to the report, NIACE Chief Executive, David Hughes, said:

“Practical English and maths skills are vital to help young people and adults get on in life and in work. We know from our work that Functional Skills qualifications, delivered well, can make a real difference to learners, by making learning relevant to them and opening up their horizons.

“We welcome the work Ofqual is doing to improve the quality of these important qualifications. It is vital that they are understood and valued by learners and employers. The quality of the qualification itself – and the teaching – are important parts of that.

“It is exciting to see the teaching and the assessments having strong real-life contexts. This motivates learners as well as complementing vocational training and Apprenticeship programmes. More effective assessment, which builds on great teaching of the range of literacy and numeracy skills, will open up opportunities to learners. That in turn will give teachers and employers greater confidence in Functional Skills qualifications.”

Ofqual reports that awarding organisations will be:

  • improving the quality of assessments, to provide more real-life context and allow students to demonstrate a wider range of skills;
  • strengthening awarding processes and undertaking additional monitoring to give greater assurance that standards have been met; and
  • working more closely with employers and other users to make sure that the qualifications meet their needs.

Ofqual will review progress in autumn this year and will set out guidance on question design and work with awarding organisations to make sure standards are set more consistently.

Jeremy Benson, Executive Director for Vocational Qualifications, said:

“We take the quality of Functional Skills qualifications very seriously and have high expectations of the awarding organisations that offer them.

“The changes awarding organisations are making should result in real and visible improvements to Functional Skills assessments – making them more relevant and more reliable.   We will follow up on these changes and if we find that qualifications don’t meet our requirements, we will take further action.”