Improving Functional Skills qualifications

Functional Skills are important qualifications taken in large numbers. Over a million were awarded last year. These qualifications allow students to demonstrate their skills in key areas such as English and maths.

Today Ofqual published a report which sets out the improvements that awarding organisations are making to current Functional Skills qualifications, following their recent review. These changes will make sure that the qualifications are high quality and that standards are consistent. They want Functional Skills qualifications to better reflect the achievements of students and more effectively meet employers’ needs.

In particular, awarding organisations will be:

  • Improving the quality of assessments, to provide more real-life context and allow students to demonstrate a wider range of skills
  • Strengthening awarding processes and undertaking additional monitoring to give greater assurance that standards have been met
  • Working more closely with employers and other users to make sure that the qualifications meet their needs

Ofqual will review their progress in autumn this year. In the meantime they will set out guidance on question design and work with awarding organisations to make sure standards are set more consistently.

Jeremy Benson, Executive Director for Vocational Qualifications, said:

“We take the quality of Functional Skills qualifications very seriously and have high expectations of the awarding organisations that offer them.

The changes awarding organisations are making should result in real and visible improvements to Functional Skills assessments – making them more relevant and more reliable.   We will follow up on these changes and if we find that qualifications don’t meet our requirements, we will take further action.”

David Hughes, Chief Executive of NIACE, said:

“Practical English and maths skills are vital to help young people and adults get on in life and in work. We know from our work that Functional Skills qualifications, when delivered well, can make a real difference to learners by making learning relevant to them.

“We welcome the work Ofqual is doing to improve the quality of these important qualifications. It is vital that they are understood and valued by learners and employers, the quality of the qualification itself and the way it is taught are both important parts of that.”