Functional Skills Maths and T-Levels
Hello and welcome to April’s Functional Skills blog, looking at all things Functional Skills. This month we will be looking at how Functional Skills Maths can be used to complement the delivery of T-Levels and help develop the maths competencies of T Level learners. This is the follow up blog to the one in January looking at English in this way.
Each T-Level includes a series of competencies across English and maths designed by Royal Society Committees. These competencies are the same across each T-Level and are designed to ensure that the learners have the English and maths skills necessary in the vocational subject and for future progression. While they are not directly assessed, they are a fundamental component of T-Levels. This month’s blog will look at each of these competencies for maths and relate them to the skills necessary to complete the equivalent Level 2 Functional Skill.
General Maths Competencies (GMC)
The General Maths Competencies outline a framework of ten competencies:
- Measuring with precision
- Estimating, calculating & error spotting
- Working with proportion
- Using rules and formulae
- Processing data
- Understanding data & risk
- Interpreting and representing with mathematical diagrams
- Communicating using mathematics
- Costing a project
- Optimising work processes
These competencies match well with the coverage and range for Level 2 Functional Skills maths, in fact Level 2 Functional Skills may well go a little bit above and beyond some of these. Let’s take a look at some of these competencies in a bit more detail.
Measuring with precision
In many workplace situations measurement is important. Functional Skills learners at Level 2 are expected to work with measures. Here is a typical example where the learners need to convert between the metric and imperial system.
Precision is also key. Functional Skills maths learners need to be precise with their work. They need to understand when to round and when not to (during calculations can lead to inaccurate answers).
Estimating, calculating and error checking
Level 2 Functional Skills learners are expected to be able to use estimation on the non-calculator paper.
They are also expected to be able to check their answers using a reverse calculation or estimation. This is a particular area where learners do have difficulty. So much so that we produced a guide to performing a check and to estimation to support learners.
Working with proportion
The use of proportion permeates many areas of mathematical application and learners need an understanding of this key mathematical concept so that they can recognise situations where ideas of direct proportionality and inverse proportion apply (and those where they do not).
Inverse proportion is new to Functional Skills maths after the reform. Here is an example question:
Using rules and formulae
Functional Skills learners need to have an understanding of rules and formulae. There is a list of formulae a learner is expected to know, available here: Formula for Level 1 and 2. Learners also need to be able to work with and rearrange given formulae as per their needs.
This GMC involves the learners being able to identify, collate and present data. At Level 2 Functional Skills learners need to be able to represent discrete data in tables, diagrams and charts and group discrete data and represent grouped data graphically. In terms of graphs and charts, the key Level 2 skill is scattergraphs, though they would also be expected to work with other graphs and charts as well.
As part of this competency, learners will be able to use probability to calculate appropriate uncertainty in making predictions and exploring future risks. Since the reform, Level 2 Functional Skills has had an increased amount of probability in its standards. Learners now have to work out the probability of combined events including the use of diagrams and tables, including two-way tables. Here is an example question:
Communicating using mathematics
People with this GMC are able to use mathematical processes (calculations, diagrams and data representations) to support technical arguments and communicate effectively to a range of stakeholders. They can reason with mathematics, communicate this clearly and draw conclusions that are persuasive within the context of the problem situation.
Functional Skills learners often have to explain their outcomes, “show their reason why”. This is best practice for both the T-Levels and real life.
Using Functional Skills to Support T-Levels
- Look at using Functional Skills with learners at Level 2 wishing to progress onto a T-Level.
- Incorporate the teaching styles of Functional Skills into the General Competencies. Use the Functional Skills teaching teams to support learners.
- Using Functional Skills where possible for learners that need upskilling on a T-Level, regardless of entry level.
- Using lesson starter quizzes to form part of ongoing formative feedback on progression.
- The basic principle of the idea is that each lesson the learners are given a quiz at the start that looks at elements of the content of the qualification. This is in the form of a grid of nine questions. Over time, these quizzes form an ideal revision template for the learners and provides the tutor with easy to access feedback on areas of strength and weakness.
- The quiz is a perfect starter activity with groups and can be self marked or grouped marked by the learners. Ideally this activity should take about ten minutes. For this to be truly effective, each quiz should follow the same format with questions of a similar topic always being in the same place.
You can access the quiz guide here: Lesson Starter Quizzes.
We will shortly be publishing vocationally based maths quizzes in the following areas:
- Land Based
- Applied Science
- Art and Design
- Digital Media
- Hair and Beauty
- Health and Social Care
- Hospitality and Tourism
- Performing Arts
- Public Services
- Transport and Vehicle
If you are looking for more support on T-Levels or using Functional Skills to support your T-Level provision, please do get in touch.
Chris Briggs - Product Manager Post 16 English, Maths and Digital Skills