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Second consultation launches on functional skills

New Ofqual consultation on assessment of functional skills proposes that maths should be assessed ‘with and without a calculator’

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New Ofqual consultation on assessment of functional skills proposes that maths should be assessed ‘with and without a calculator’

Days after a consultation was launched by the government revealing changes to the subject content of the new functional skills qualifications in English and maths, Ofqual has launched a second separate consultation.

The consultation, launched this morning by the exams watchdog, reveals several changes to the assessment of the new qualifications, set to be introduced in 2019. Learners taking the maths qualifications will now have to be able to demonstrate skills “both with and without a calculator”, the consultation reads – a change in approach to the current qualifications, which allows the use of a calculator throughout.

For the English qualifications, learners will no longer have access to spelling and grammar checks during sections of the writing assessment where spelling, punctuation and grammar (Spag) requirements will be assessed “as this would undermine the assessment of learners’ underpinning skills”. Learners are also required to pass every component of the English qualification (reading, writing, speaking, listening and communicating) in order to achieve an overall pass.

The changes build on the previously revealed information in the government's consultation on the content of the new qualifications, which shows the new functional skills qualifications in English will include phonics, while maths courses will have a stronger focus on context.

'Employer-driven qualifications'

In a letter sent to Ofqual, skills minister Anne Milton writes that the reformed qualifications should retain the use of a pass-fail grading system and that she expected them "to retain their focus on the knowledge and skills needed for everyday life and in the workplace".

"It is important that all users of the reformed qualifications have a clear understanding of their level of demand," Ms Milton adds.

Sally Collier, chief regulator at Ofqual, said: "In this reform programme we seek to maintain the flexibility and workplace relevance of the existing qualifications, while providing the assurance that learners have demonstrated the knowledge and skills that employers need. We are asking for views on the design, delivery and awarding of these qualifications and on the detail of how to maintain standards across awarding organisations and over time."

The consultation by Ofqual will end on 22 November 2017.

What the two consultations reveal

  • Functional skills qualifications in English will include phonics.

  • Maths courses will have a stronger focus on context and will be assessed with and without a calculator.

  • No spelling checks will be allowed in sections of the English qualification where Spag requirements are assessed.

  • Functional skills qualifications in English and maths will retain the use of a pass-fail grading system.

  • The size of the qualifications will not change significantly.

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