The key piece of work going on for all qualifications is on adaptations to delivery and assessment to meet everyone’s needs in the current climate. Fortunately, with Functional Skills, we are starting from a position of strength in this respect. As Pearson’s assessments are available on demand, we feel there is no need to change the assessment offer. This might be different if we ran assessments on set dates, but the current flexibility allows providers to run assessments when they want to run assessments. With the paper-based assessments, you even have the added flexibility of the five-day window for learners to take the assessment. In exceptional circumstances, where a learner is self-isolating, for example, we will allow this window to be extended to 14 days. Just remember to contact us if you need this - you can complete our exception form.
In terms of the delivery, the view across the awarding organisations is that we should not change the content of the Functional Skills assessments. Learners are expected to demonstrate a certain level of knowledge, skills and understanding to achieve the pass threshold across the qualifications and by adapting or potentially removing content this would impact on the validity of the qualification. Similarly, each assessment assesses standalone content, so we cannot say that a learner passing maths would also pass ICT, or a learner passing reading would also pass writing or Speaking, Listening and Communicating.
Work is continuing towards the creation of an online remote invigilation (proctored) solution. In the past week, I have seen the process in operation, sitting an assessment at home while being invigilated by a colleague from afar. I must admit the system looked good from a learner’s point of view (the package guides you through everything you need to do to ensure the assessment takes place in an appropriate manner) and was very thorough, picking up all my attempts to fool the system. We are starting a pilot soon with a full roll out early in the New Year.
While we continue to work on remote invigilation, we have also been working on some other concessions in terms of the invigilation. For Speaking, Listening and Communicating, we are continuing to allow online assessment as we did for 2019/2020 and have guidance on our website on how to facilitate this for Level 1 and 2 (0.65 KB) and Entry Level (120 KB).
For onscreen tests we also have created the option of allowing employers to invigilate the assessments, again by exception. This should not be someone with direct responsibility to the learner, such as a line manager or the learner's direct report. You must provide invigilation training and remote assistance before, during and after a test is being taken. It is still your responsibility to ensure that the location of the test is suitable and that the learner’s identification is validated.
We have spoken to a lot of providers in the last few weeks to understand their situation. We hope that these solutions will help assessments continue but we also fully understand that there may be particular circumstances which may be impacting some of your learners. If you need any additional support to ensure these learners are able to take a Functional Skills assessment, please contact us directly so we can understand the issues and work with you to find a suitable solution.
Chris Briggs, Sector Manager Post-16 English and Maths