Functional skills: overhaul of English and maths qualifications announced

15th October 2015 at 12:00

The government is to go ahead with reforms to English and maths functional skills qualifications, it was announced today.

Skills minister Nick Boles has asked the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) to develop the qualifications, which are intended to improve basic literacy and numeracy skills for life and work.

The reformed qualifications would be available from 2018, Mr Boles said, and would “meet the expectations and needs of employers and help people into secure jobs”.

Functional skills qualifications were introduced in 2012 to provide non-GCSE flexible study programmes for adults and young people wanting to return to education. They are a core component of apprenticeships and traineeships and help learners to gain literacy, numeracy and ICT skills. More than 1 million were awarded in 2013-14.

The ETF will consult on a new set of national literacy and numeracy standards in 2016 that will form the basis of the renewed qualifications. It will also work with qualifications regulator Ofqual, employers, education providers and teachers, to ensure the qualifications will deliver a high standard of teaching and learning.  

Skills Minister Nick Boles said: “Functional skills are delivering an employer-recognised level of English and maths skills that help learners into lasting work and to play an active role in society. But learners and employers must have faith in them, which is why the ETF will be delivering a reform programme to provide more rigorous and respected qualifications.”

David Russell, chief executive of the ETF, said: “We’re delighted our proposal has been accepted. On behalf of the FE and training sector, working closely with employers, we are uniquely well placed to deliver this important work, helping learners to progress.”

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