What are Functional Skills?
Functional Skills are the fundamental skills that everyone needs to be able to operate confidently, effectively, successfully and independently in their working and personal lives. Students can study for Functional Skills in practical ways and apply core skills to real-life situations. They are flexible qualifications with multiple assessment opportunities, which means they can be delivered in a way that meets the needs of individual learners and their employers.
Functional Skills provide the learning tools to enable students to:
- Apply knowledge and understanding to everyday life
- Engage competently and confidently with others
- Solve problems in both familiar and unfamiliar problems
- Develop personally and professionally
Why are Functional Skills Important to Apprenticeships?
Functional Skills form part of The Education and Skills Funding Agencies ambition for a world-class technical education system. This is based on recommendations from independent experts that progression towards and attainment of, approved level 2 English and maths qualifications is an important part of the apprenticeship programme and essential in supporting longer-term career prospects.
Functional Skills are an integral part of delivering apprenticeships in the UK and are a mandatory component in all apprenticeship standards.
An apprentice needs to provide evidence that they have achieved Functional Skills qualifications or an equivalent, before the Gateway stage of their apprenticeship. The Government provides a list of acceptable current or prior equivalent qualifications for English and Maths.
Why are Functional Skills Important to Employers?
Functional skills are now well accepted by employers as important components of apprenticeships and as valuable standalone qualifications. In a consultation held by Ofqual in 2014, 70% of employers said that Functional Skill qualifications assessed the skills employers need in the workplace.
All employers are required to allow apprentices time out of the workplace to complete their Functional Skills; this is a contractual requirement of all apprenticeships.
Functional Skills Reforms September 2019
The Department for Education (DfE), which is responsible for the Functional Skills subject content, has introduced much more specific common content, in September 2019.
For English, there is now a focus on spelling, punctuation and grammar, without the aid of dictionaries or spell checks. For maths, the content draws upon the underpinning knowledge and skills needed to solve mathematical problems, both with and without a calculator.
BKSB Initial and Diagnostic Assessments
As per Ofsted recommended best practice, and to aid all Apprentices’ development they are required to undertake English and maths Initial and Diagnostic Assessments regardless of any acceptable current or prior equivalent qualifications; once prior to induction and then again as they reach the End Point Assessment Gateway.
BKSB are the UK’s leading eLearning provider for Functional Skills in English and maths and the organisation chosen by SR Supply Chain Consultants to facilitate English and maths Initial and Diagnostic Assessments. Their interactive learning content has proven to significantly raise English and maths standards in a host of education and employment settings.
The BKSB Initial and Diagnostic Assessments for English and maths meets the reformed functional skills standards for 2019. These tools are fully interactive, self-marking, dynamic.
The Initial Assessment Tool adjusts the level according to the answers given, allowing apprentices to see what level of English and maths they are currently working at.
The Diagnostic Tool provides each apprentice with an accurate level for reading, spelling, punctuation and grammar and writing for English and Number, Measure, Shape and Space and Statistics and Data for maths. It also shows the distance each apprentice is from progressing to the next level and what they need to practice improving their English and maths. Which can additionally help to improve an apprentices’ essential skills, knowledge and understanding of English and maths required to sit any English and/or maths Functional Skills examinations.
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