Hello and welcome to an update on the reform of Functional Skills English and maths.
As with the rest of the suite, reformed Entry Level Functional Skills were introduced in September 2019 and with the reform came numerous changes to the assessments.
Entry Level English
The reformed Entry Level English qualifications now include spelling tests for the first time, view the word lists. With the spelling tests, the learners need to transcribe the correct spelling into the gap from a choice of four words. To help support the teaching of spelling, we have also produced a guide to spelling strategies.
In addition to the spelling tests, there are also new questions focussed around certain aspects of grammar and punctuation such as the use of capital letters for Entry 1 and the use of plurals for Entry 2 and Entry 3.
As with previous writing tests for the legacy qualifications, the extended writing pieces can be contextualised by the centre to make them more suitable for the learners. Please discuss this with your Standards Verifier if you plan to do this.
Unlike the writing, the reading tests cannot be contextualised as we need to include a specific number of words from the relevant spelling list in each test. For this reason, we have created a bank of eight papers which a tutor can have access to to choose the most suitable for their learner.
Take a look at our sample papers and practice papers, available, to get an idea of how these papers are structured.
The tasks have changed for the Speaking, Listening and Communicating too, and we recommend having a look at our webinar and our exemplar videos.
Entry Level Maths
The reformed Entry Level Functional Skills maths qualifications feature two major structural changes from the legacy: the introduction of a non calculator paper and the introduction of separate underpinning and problem solving questions.
The non calculator paper is the first paper for the reformed qualifications and makes up approximately 25% of the overall marks. This paper will include a lot of the numeracy based questions, so learners do need to practice their non calculator skills on a regular basis. The underpinning and problem solving is spread across both papers. Take a look at our sample papers and practice papers, to get an idea of how these papers are structured.
To provide support for tutors, we have provided exemplification for all three of the Entry Level assessments:
We also have examiner’s reports for each level based around our trial in the summer of 2019:
As with previous maths tests for the legacy qualifications, the reformed tests can be contextualised by the centre to make them more suitable for the learners. Please discuss this with your Standards Verifier if you plan to do this.
Hot Teaching Tips
- For Entry Level English, spend time teaching spelling to your learners using the strategies in our guide. There are a lot of marks available on the spelling test in the writing papers at each level, so this could be the difference between passing and failing.
- For Entry Level English reading, choose the most suitable paper for your learners based on the contexts we cover.
- For Entry Level English speaking, listening and communicating, encourage your learners to ask questions in the classroom. This would be good preparation for their assessment. You could consider keeping a tally of who asks questions regularly so you can encourage all to do so.
- For Entry Level maths, the non calculator paper means the learners need to be secure with their basic numeracy. Spend time on teaching non calculator maths strategies.
- For Entry Level maths, spend classroom time looking at the problem solving questions and encouraging your learners to pick out the key information they need.
- For Entry Level maths, encourage your learners to show their working out and to check their answers. This is always good practice.
Our next series of Functional Skills webinar events is coming up in February, these will focus on question and answer sessions on the reform.This will give you an opportunity to hear from our trainer, who will run through some frequently asked questions concerning the reformed Functional Skills for English and Maths (Entry Levels and Levels 1/2).
There will be plenty of time to ask some of your own questions, if you wish to attend please come with some questions ready. Follow the below link, selecting [subject: Functional Skills] and register your interest in attending today.
Chris Briggs, Sector Manager Post 16 English and Maths