Making Sense of Functional Skills – fortnightly news and comment about Functional Skills
edited and compiled by Jonathan Wells – firstname.lastname@example.org 0191 305 5051
Latest Content News
Item: The first batch of revised and refreshed worksheets, solutions and lesson plans are available for:
English Entry Level 3: New York New York, Face Off
English Level 1: Pharaoh’s Revenge, Driving You Mad, Clowning Around, Please Hold, Quiet Please
English Level 2: Going Going Gone, Home Sweet Home, Through The Keyhole, Have I Got News For You,
Going Green, Is It Safe?, Master Chef, My Idol
Action to Implement: You may wish to download and print the latest versions of these materials to keep your Tutor Packs up to date.
We expect the remaining worksheets, solutions and lesson plans to be revised and refreshed before the end of term.
The quotations below refer to all the references in the 2008/09 Ofsted report that mention functional skills.
Developing the core skills of literacy and numeracy remains a relatively weak area of provision. Barriers include poor integration of functional skills with other aspects of learning within Diplomas.
Learners are particularly engaged and motivated by staff who draw on industry expertise to enliven teaching and make it relevant.
Many schools identify problem-solving in mathematics as a priority for improvement, but few tackle it really well. For older students, evaluation of the implementation of Diplomas shows that, even in some successful consortia, the teaching of functional skills is less engaging and of poorer quality than the vocational elements.
Early indications are that students are motivated and challenged by the applied style of learning in Diplomas. However, work to develop their functional skills frequently lacks coordination, and the quality of the teaching and learning of these skills varies considerably.
Moreover, the functional skills agenda is becoming increasingly complex as the multiple 14 to 19 pathways lead to learners arriving at colleges with very different levels of these skills.
For some young people working towards the new Diplomas, a key barrier to the acquisition of good literacy and numeracy is the poor integration of functional skills, which are being piloted, with other aspects of learning. At present, the teaching of functional skills is very varied across providers and, too often, different providers within a consortium do not work together sufficiently to support learners. In many cases, functional skills are taught separately from the rest of the course with the result that opportunities to apply those skills in a practical context are limited.
Latest Content News
Item: The first Entry Level materials are now online, with worksheets, solutions and lesson plans for:
English Entry Level 3: New York New York, Face Off
ICT Entry Level 3: Blog It!, Mum’s The Word
Maths Entry Level 3: Be Patient, Up To You
Action to Implement: Update your Tutor Packs by downloading and printing the new materials.
Item: New Interactive Tasks
ICT Entry Level 3: Blog It! – Tasks 1-3, Mum’s The Word – Tasks 1-3
Maths Entry Level 3: Be Patient – Tasks 1-4, Up To You – Tasks 1-3
Action to Implement: No action necessary, this content is now available online within the Challenge(s)
Coming Soon: Entry Level 1 and Entry Level 2 Learning Challenges and the remaining interactive tasks for all Entry Level Learning Challenges
Over the Summer holiday period, the guroo content jockeys have been busily beavering away adding tons of extra content to the guroo service.
That means more Learning Challenges, providing greater coverage – in breadth and depth – of the skills in the Functional Skills standards.
… with more paper-based and online interactive tasks – all with solutions and explanations of the underpinning learning.
… more lesson plans – perfect for those Functional Skills practice sesions led by non-subject specialists.
… and more practice questions to prepare your learners for assessment.
We’ve also added the first Entry Level materials in the form of scenario based resources included for English, ICT and Mathematics at Entry Level 3 – with Entry Level 2 and 1 versions of these on the way.
In total, we’ve almost doubled the number of Learning Challenges within guroo while maintaining incredibly low prices – including cost-effective options for everything from small cohorts of learners through to whole-authority subscriptions.
Find out how you can get access to the leading collection of Functional Skills resources here (there are special offers this month!).
Functional Skills Guru Welcomes GCSE Changes
7 April 2009 – A leading commentator has welcomed last week’s announcement that removed the “hurdle” of passing separate Functional Skills exams to pass core GCSEs from 2010.
“At first glance, it looks like a backward step” says Jonathan Wells, “but as long as the Government follows up on its commitment to encourage, incentives and reward schools who offer Functional Skills as separate qualifications, the end result will be more focus on this critical area, not less.”
In a letter from Rt Hon Jim Knight MP (Minister of State for Schools and Learners) to Kathleen Tattersall OBE (Chair of Ofqual) dated 2nd April, the Minister conceded “for now” that release of the new GCSE criteria could not be delayed while ways were found to reconcile the differences between GCSEs passed in England with those from Wales and Northern Ireland if English students were required to pass a separate Functional Skills “hurdle”.
“There is much to welcome in Jim Knight’s letter” says Jonathan, “and indeed Kathleen Tattersall has re-stated her support for the objectives of Functional Skills. Any school who thought this was a reprieve should consider that we are now in a situation where Functional Skills will make up about 50% of the new GCSEs – albeit within the GCSE assessment rather than standalone – and schools will be under considerable pressure to put learners through a separate Functional Skills assessment to demonstrate to stakeholders such as employers, further and higher education, and parents … that learners have truly functional skills that everyone values.”
Separate Functional Skills passes in English, mathematics and ICT are a must-pass element of the new Diplomas, lines of learning which 40,000 learners will be following from September 2009, and Functional Skills qualifications will replace other “core” or “basic” skills programmes such as Key Skills and ALAN (Adult Literacy and Adult Numeracy).
Jonathan again: “Jim Knight has already made a reference to linking separate Functional Skills qualifications to the new School Report Card, and it’s clear that he is very motivated to find other ways of ensuring that schools offer a separate qualification to show mastery of these core skills. Who knows what might follow – Functional Skills in performance table, links to funding – but one thing we can be sure of is that Functional Skills continues to be at the heart of 14-19 education!”
jwells at guroo.co.uk
The eVolve Centre
Rainton Bridge Business Park
Houghton le Spring
Direct Dial: 0191 305 5051
Mobile: 07753 822393
Jonathan Wells is Founder and MD of Guroo Ltd, a Naace Fellow and Functional Skills trainer and consultant.
Kathleen Tattersall’s letter to Jim Knight is at:
Jim Knight’s reply is at: