Hello and welcome to an update on the reform of Functional Skills English and maths.
The Autumn term’s network events are now at an end, therefore this last blog of the year will be a reflection on the talking points from those events.
As always, the events were very positive and an opportunity to discuss Functional Skills with all types of providers (from FE Colleges and WBL providers to sports teams and hospitals), with all types of roles within those providers (from Vice Principals and CEOs to Exams Officers and teachers). Watch this space for details about the next set of network events, which will run after Easter.
The major topics of conversation were unsurprising: the standards of the reformed qualifications and where learners are struggling and the new invigilation rules. With regard to the former, we have produced a series of webinars to support providers based around the outcomes of our trials; and for the latter, we have a new guide to the new rules and exceptions.
Interestingly though, one of the biggest talking points was regarding the speaking, listening and communicating assessments, especially at Level 1 and 2, and I thought it would be beneficial to dedicate this blog to these subjects.
The starting points for those new to the reformed speaking, listening and communicating would be the following:
At the networks, the focus was on the tasks themselves at Level 1 and 2 and how to assess them. Level 1 learners need to complete a short talk (3-4 minutes) and a formal discussion (10 minutes); Level 2 learners need to complete a mini presentation (4-5 minutes) and a formal discussion (15 minutes). It is feasible to assess these learners at the same time, but consideration here has to be given to the Level 2 learners. If the discussion is too short, then they will fail.
For learners in the workplace, or in centre for that matter, it is still possible to assess using colleagues not doing the qualification, but remember that the learners still need to engage in someone else’s presentation. What we suggest is using this as a teaching opportunity, where the assessor gives a short presentation, after which the learner can ask questions.
SLC Level 1 and 2 - Dos and Don’ts
- Do give the learners ample time to prepare - evidence of preparation is needed for both tasks.
- Don’t forget that this preparation should be focused on research and what they are going to say. PowerPoint is a useful tool but, in my experience, learners spend too long on this to the detriment of other aspects of the assessment.
- Do frame the discussion as a question, it gives the learners a focus point to refer to at the end of the discussion and avoids potential dead air at the end.
- Don’t choose the topics for the learners, they need to be able to talk about these topics and it is easier if they know something about the subject.
- Do assess the learners in groups wherever possible. Logistically, it is easier and it allows the learners to ask questions in the presentations.
- Don’t do presentations in front of the full class, wherever possible. This can be daunting for learners and makes the asking of relevant questions harder to monitor for you and harder to actually ask for the last few learners in the group.
- Do keep up to date records of who has achieved each task.
- Don’t forget to fill in the assessment record sheet for each learner while it is still fresh in your mind.
Thank you for your involvement and engagement with Functional Skills during 2019. It has been a busy and successful year. We look forward to keeping you up to date with Functional Skills in 2020 and continuing to support you with a successful delivery of the qualifications.
Wishing you and your families a happy and relaxing festive period.
Chris Briggs, Sector Manager Post 16 English and Maths