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Reformed functional skills specifications released

The new reformed English and maths qualifications are due to start being taught in September

Functional skills qualifications are being reformed

Two awarding organisations have completed the Ofqual process required for their functional skills qualifications to be delivered from September.

There was concern from teachers that last month, with just six months to go before the new courses were due to start being taught, the specifications for the new qualifications were not available for teachers. There is added pressure for functional skills teachers because funding for the old-style qualifications will be stopped, except for continuing learners.

AQA and Pearson have now completed the five-step Ofqual process or technical evaluation to ensure quality and standardisation. AQA will offer maths and English functional skills qualifications at levels 1 and 2, while Pearson will offer the qualifications at levels 1 and 2 and also entry level. The specifications can be viewed on the AQA and Pearson websites.

Concerns were fuelled after the Department for Education's head of post-16 basic skills told an Association of Colleges conference that the specifications might not be ready until the May half term, adding: “It’s very tight for you, but we’re confident we will have a range of qualifications.” Nine exam boards are still awaiting final approval for their reformed functional skills qualifications to be delivered.


Read more: Concern over delay of reformed functional skills

More news: Functional skills still not ready for September start

Background: Phonics included in reformed functional skills


'Functional skills change lives'

Cindy Rampersaud, senior vice-president for BTECs and apprenticeships at Pearson, said she “believes passionately that functional skills matter and really change lives”.

"We are delighted that our functional skills specifications and sample assessments have recently been accredited by Ofqual. These important qualifications support a wide range of learners, aged between 16-18 and adults, to help them progress in their education and careers.

“Our focus now is on the creation of resources to support teaching and learning. We have created sample assessments and will be introducing entry-level functional skills to ExamWizard, our online resource containing a large bank of past paper questions and support materials to help teachers create their own mock exams and tests. Schemes of work are in production and will come in two formats, a traditional paper-based version and an interactive version.”

An AQA spokesperson said: “Our reformed functional skills qualifications in maths have now completed Ofqual’s technical evaluation process. These qualifications, at levels 1 and 2, are designed to prepare students for life and work by putting maths into practical contexts such as personal finance, work-based scenarios and planning and organising activities, and to test key, underpinning skills. Resources are now available on our website.”

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