The 2018 functional skills reforms

Functional skills in English and maths are being reformed.  

The new functional skills are being developed by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) on behalf of the Department for Education (DfE). ETF has been working in consultation with a group of employers, providers, practitioners and learners over the last year to build the reforms. The consultation period is now over, and the new functional skills in English and maths will be ready to deliver in September 2019. 

Why are they being reformed?  

The qualifications haven’t changed since they were first introduced in 2010, so big improvements needed to be made. The new functional skills qualifications will now include all the relevant skills and knowledge to prepare people for the modern world of work.  

What’s new?  

The subject content has changed across all levels for English and maths. Small changes have been made – like a reduced spelling list in English and the introduction of a calculator and non-calculator paper in maths.  

Other larger changes have rocked the boat a little – like the addition of phonics in English. Phonics have been added to help learners build their reading skills, but this approach was criticised by many people during the consultation process. Jill Stokoe, an education policy advisor with the National Education Union, was concerned that phonics is not always an appropriate approach for people with additional needs or learning difficulties, saying; ‘ministerial obsession with phonics must not infect post-16 provision – one size does not fit all.’  

Other changes have been welcomed with open arms. The new non-calculator test has been added to the maths standards as employers expressed a need for employees to learn basic mental arithmatic. Another welcome change is a clearer distinction between the different levels.    

Changes have also been made to the assessment process – from assessment times to how awarding organisations can assess the content.  

 

More than 1 million people take functional skills in English and maths every year, and the new standards will be rolled out to learners across the country in September 2019. The Government has published the content for English and maths already, and many training providers are already working to implement the new qualifications.  

Many colleges and training providers use an elearning solution to deliver and manage functional skills in English and maths. At OneFile, we recommend bksb. It’s used by 87% of UK colleges and has all the resources you need to deliver functional skills – from initial assessment to exam practice. And OneFile’s learning platform fully integrates with bksb, so you can manage all your learners in one place – whether they’re completing functional skills, apprenticeships or any other type of vocational training.  

Find out how you can use bksb to deliver Functional Skills.

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