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What are Functional Skills? 2021-11-04T15:38:22+00:00
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What are Functional Skills?

Functional Skills are the fundamental ENGLISH, MATHS and ICT skills that people need for their working and personal lives. People can study for the qualifications in practical ways and apply core skills to real-life situations. Successive governments have championed these flexible courses to equip people with the essential skills they need to succeed.

View our Simple Guide to the Reforms

English and maths are essential subjects that are included in most training and education programmes. They are a required component of Diplomas, Foundation Learning Programmes and Apprenticeships. Functional Skills can be studied as stand-alone qualifications or as a stepping stone to GCSEs.

You can find out more about the revised English and Maths Functional Skills Standards by selecting one of the links on this page. The revised Functional Skills tests came into force in September 2019. bksb’s FOCUS Functional Skills solution reflects the changes to the new standards and tests.

“Functional skills are practical skills in English, mathematics and information and communication technology (ICT) that allow individuals to operate confidently, effectively and independently in life and work.” Department for Education and Skills

Functional Skills Criteria

Click on the icons below to find out more about the Functional Skills standards/criteria relating to English, maths and ICT.

English Functional Skills Criteria
Maths Functional Skills Criteria
ICT Functional Skills Criteria

Functional Skills Levels

Functional Skills qualifications are available at Entry 1, Entry 2, Entry 3, Level 1 and Level 2. As an approximate comparison, Entry Level 1 – 3 is below GCSE level, Level 1 is comparable to GCSE grades 1 – 3, and Level 2 is comparable to GCSE grade 4.

How are Functional Skills assessed?

Functional Skills assessments are graded as either a ‘pass’ or ‘fail’. There are no proxies and no portfolio elements for these qualifications. All Entry Level examinations are paper based. They are assessed internally and are moderated by the centre.

Both Level 1 and Level 2 can be taken online or as a paper exam. Online exams can be taken on demand, but paper assessments must be taken during weeks set by the awarding body. Level 1 and Level 2 are externally assessed and carried out in exam conditions at the assessment centre.

Functional Skills Reforms

Qualifications in English and mathematics are being reformed. New qualifications in English and mathematics will be introduced for first teaching in September 2019. You can find out more about the reforms and their implementation by taking a look at this information from Ofqual:

Our Simple Guide to the Reforms

Implementing Reforms

Qualification Reforms

Decisions on the Reforms

Functional Skills in Apprenticeships

If an apprentice has not previously achieved an A*-C in GCSE English and maths, they must work towards either their Level 2 Functional Skills or GCSEs. For some apprenticeships, they may only need to achieve Level 1. Functional Skills form a key part of apprenticeships, providing individuals with the skills to complete their qualification.

I am a student. Why do I need Functional Skills?

Some students often wonder why they need to do English, maths and ICT when they are taking a more vocational, practical course or career path. These subjects are, in fact, vitally important in almost any path you have chosen.  Our dedicated student page offers information, guidance and video content explaining just how important functional skills are.  Why not take a look?

Focus Functional Skills – your eLearning solution

Focus Functional Skills is your own online resource, built to help learners improve the skills needed for their qualifications. Our package of assessment and development identifies a suitable start point and pathway, then supports the teaching of vital skills. It’s designed to help prepare learners for the exams through a series of guided learning support and revision resources. Find out more.

Our Initial Assessment provides a tool for tutors to identify a learner’s working level. The Diagnostic Assessment then provides an analysis of a learner’s strengths and weaknesses. This data gives tutors the key information needed to begin to track a learner’s journey.

Our resourcesskill checks and revision scenarios help learners to improve their English and maths skills. They can be used in a class situation or via distance learning. Tutors can track a learner’s progress through their individual programme. All products are accessed from our award-winning bksbLIVE 2 platform.

The products can be used to prepare for qualifications from all awarding organisations, including Pearson and City & Guilds.

How can bksb help?

bksb created the original process for the assessment and development of basic and key skills back in the 1990s.  As they have evolved into what we now recognise as Functional Skills, we have been at the forefront of understanding exactly what is required to ensure learners are prepared to pass their qualifications.  We also invest a great deal of time in helping tutors, managers, and organisations to maximise the provision that they offer to their learners. Along with the help and support you can find on this site, and on our eLearning platform bksbLIVE 2, we also run regular free events online and in venues all over the country.  Check out our events page to find out more.

CoronaVirus: Helping to grade learners for Functional Skills

Ofqual have announced that, due to the disruption caused to education by the CoronaVirus pandemic, teachers will estimate Functional Skills grades. bksb can help support this process.

Ofqual have stated that, ‘any estimation should have three elements: professional judgement and evidence from teachers and component results from already moderated assessment by awarding bodies.’

How can bksb help? 
We are committed to helping our users in any way we can. bksb can be used for part of ‘the evidence from teachers’ element, by running reports. If you need help using bksb data to support this process – please don’t hesitate to get in touch to arrange a webinar.

And finally…

Our friendly team are always here to help.  Whether you are a bksb customer or not, please never hesitate to get in touch if we can be of any help.  We would love to hear from you.

If you are not currently using bksb and would like a demo, you can book one here.

Students celebrate functional skills success
Students celebrate functional skills success