Solving the skills problem

29th April 2011 at 01:00
In response to Tears at test time: deprived teens revolt over pen-and-paper exams

Regarding "Tears at test time: deprived teens revolt over pen-and- paper exams" (22 April), let's bear in mind that Professor Alison Wolf's comments related to the three-year pilot of functional skills that ended last year. It is not accurate to include her comments about the pilot phase in this context.

It is good news, though, that functional skills are now seen and, more importantly, accepted as a rigorous and valuable qualification. But difficulties still exist where teachers believe they are a direct replacement and equivalent to the multiple-choice-based key skillsALAN (Adult Literacy and Numeracy) assessments.

Functional skills are based on problem-solving and they require students to think about reasonable solutions. If they have not been prepared for this aspect of the assessment and practised problem-solving, they will fail.

jiwells, via

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today