The Skills Funding Statement is published annually and depicts the funding and budgetary priorities of the government for the FE and skills sector. This instalment relates to the 2014-2015 financial year.
Following the release of the Skills Funding Statement 2013-2016, we have pulled together some of the most important information with regards to Functional Skills.
The Skills Funding Agency (SFA) have renewed their commitment to giving people the transferrable and job specific skills they need to enter, remain in and progress in employment. They also intend to ensure that anyone who has not achieved a grade C or above at GCSE for English and maths receives the support to do so. Functional Skills qualifications have an important part to play in achieving these goals –they act as the vehicle to get individuals to these destinations, so make sure that your learner support is thorough and inclusive.
English and Maths (Section 41)
The SFA have pledged to continue funding English and maths provision up to and including Level 2 in full. This applies to both GCSEs and other qualifications and includes adults as well as those of school/college age. There is a requirement for learners to be enrolled on a course that is at least one level higher than their current ability and an expectation that Initial and Diagnostic Assessments are robust and thorough. Again, The Skills Funding Agency expects to see evidence of an effective Initial Assessment prior to enrolment on a course.
The SFA have stated they will ensure that funding and regulation encourages innovation with regards to online learning alternatives to traditional delivery and blended learning. ‘Radical approaches’ to the use of educational technology is encouraged in order to see improved teaching, efficiency, responsiveness and value for money.
Job Seekers Allowance and Universal Credit Claimants (42)
The Department for Work and Pensions will increase the conditions for claiming JSA and Universal Credit from April 2014. Those identified as having a poor level of spoken English will be assigned to providers for an Initial Assessment and, where applicable, training. Additional resources have been made available to allow for this increase in English Language training.
Learning delivery will be reorganised in line with the Transforming Rehabilitation agenda, but the focus will remain on English, Maths and vocational skills that will help offenders to gain employment on release. All prisoners’ English and maths skills will be assessed on their arrival into custody, as is the case now.
New Outcome Focused Success Measures (80)
Three core outcomes have been identified to measure success – destination (into further learning or employment), progression (through learning) and changes in earnings (as a result of learning). In addition to this, the SFA will be looking at how providers are adding value to learning. They believe the best way to track ‘distance travelled’ starts with an Initial Assessment, uses an Individual Learning Plan and uses further assessments closer to the point of taking the qualification. This process will provide more data and minimises the risk of learners falling behind or making little progress on their course.
At bksb, we ensure that our products meet client requirements – bksb products are mapped to the core curriculum and are aligned with Skills Funding Statements. We continually update and innovate our products and for bksbLIVE customers, these upgrades are free and are automatically applied to your account.
Our Initial and Diagnostic Assessments are rigorous, helping to inform you of a learner’s current ability and their skills gaps with regards to the ‘next level’ qualification. You can configure groups of learners so that they are automatically given a Diagnostic Assessment which is the level above their Initial Assessment result. Alternatively, we can configure your account so that all learners are automatically moved up to the level above their Initial Assessment result.
The SFA are placing a great emphasis on tracking the learner journey and with bksb, progress is recorded throughout the bksb process. Our developers have made it easy for you to demonstrate Key Performance Indicators; evidence of progress can be downloaded from bksbLIVE at any time, or passed automatically to your MIS system via our free databridge.