Functional skills are new qualifications, which are being developed as a response to the employability needs that are set out in the Government’s 14-19 Education and Skills White Paper.
They are designed to provide the necessary levels of literacy, numeracy and information and communication technology skills needed to “function” in today’s society and workplace. Functional skills are to be included in the new Diplomas, new GCSEs and awarding body stand-alone qualifications and the foundation learning tier, as well as being stand-alone qualifications in their own right.
The development of functional skills is seen by the Government as essential “to address employers’ concerns that young people and adults are not achieving a firm enough grounding in the basics”. The qualifications are being designed to provide a ‘single ladder of achievement’. They build on existing Key and Basic qualifications which they are expected to replace in time.
Functional Skills tests will be in English, Mathematics and ICT. They can be taken at Level 1 and Level 2 and Entry Levels 1, 2 and 3. Students who are taking the new Diploma Engineering course will need to pass Functional Skills Level 2 in all 3 subjects before being awarded a Level 2 Diploma. This will apply to all of the new vocational Diplomas. Level 1 Diplomas will require FS passes in all 3 subjects at Level 1. As of 2012 all students will need to gain a Level 2 in the Functional Skills test if they are to be given a grade C or above in the GCSE for that subject.
SJLHS is committed to developing Functional Skills in the school. The main feature of the tests is to see whether students can apply their knowledge to practical situations. The work undertaken in school will therefore be mainly working on short practical projects, some in just one of the 3 areas, others may be cross-curricular. The school is working with other local schools and national awarding bodies to develop suitable study materials.