Hello and welcome to all things functional! This blog is Maureen’s round up of all she’s seen and heard during the month, with a look forward to what’s coming up in the Functional Skills World.

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I would like to say a big thank you to Nelson Thornes  for offering me this opportunity to bring together information, news and comments.  With the demise of some of the agencies that would have brought together this sort of information…QCDA, BECTA, National Strategies…Nelson Thornes had stepped into their space and undertaken to keep you supplied with up-to-date information.  My blog is just part of this picture…so look forward to fact sheets, information papers and much more…well done NelsonThornes!

So what’s happening in Functional Skills World?
First, in case you’ve been cocooned on a desert island for the past few weeks…the end of key skills is nigh!  The last bastion of key skills…the apprenticeship framework will go on 30th September.  If you manage to register your apprentices by that date they will have a year to complete their key skills…so make sure they are up and running quickly.  Adult literacy and Adult numeracy qualifications (ALAN to many of you) at level 1 and 2 are also going this summer…on the 31st August.  ESOL the other qualification in the ‘basic skills’ stable stays for another year.

Nelson Thornes are producing fact sheets with more information on how these changes will affect you.

So apart from the facts….where is the practical help?  Lots of you will be new to Functional Skills delivery and will need to start preparing NOW.   If you are waiting for a big government funded support programme …get real…it’s not going to happen.  The best we can hope for is a bit more LSIS funding from BIS.  LSIS held some initial training events earlier this year and held a very successful conference with AELP at Congress House earlier this month; it was massively oversubscribed, so they know there is a need.  They are updating the Excellence Gateway with materials and ideas which includes a Functional Skills Starter Kit. Do look at the site http://www.excellencegateway.org.uk

And where else can you get some help?  The awarding organisations are a good starting point.  All the big players are offering Functional Skills qualifications (Edexcel, City and Guilds, OCR, AQA).  There are currently 16 awarding organisations that have been accredited and I hear that with the rush to get into the apprenticeship action more are likely to follow.  So check out with your key skills provider firstly to see whether they are offering Functional Skills and secondly if they can offer you some FREE help.  I’ve heard they are cutting some good deals and if you don’t ask you won’t get!

There are still some of the old networks around from the 14-19 Reform days, many local authorities have kept these going and might be able to offer some subsidised support. If you do have access to a network can I offer you some advice …the cost to prepare and up-skillstaff to deliver Functional Skills is going to be a challenge to the whole sector…and training is not cheap.  So why not get in touch with some of the providers in your area and jointly fund some training for staff.  If you can put some funds togetherLSIS will be able to help and there are several independents around.

What other resources are out there? Our partner Forskills have got some good resources that help with the initial assessment and on-going delivery wherever you decide to deliver your Functional Skills.

And what’s coming up that might help.  Excellence in Learning has got some one day events.  ‘Functional Skills –Strategic Implementation for Managers’, (should be a good session ‘yours truly’ is delivering it!) is being held in May and ‘Functional Skills-Delivery Made Easier’, in July. Look them up on http://www.excellence-in-learning.co.uk

The Apprenticeship Service is hosting a conference in July”Making Apprenticeships Work Even Better” at the Queens Hotel in Leeds which will include a slot on Functional Skills …only £126 + VAT if you sign up now http://www.eventbrite.com/org/1969819889 Good to see that they are not London centric!

I’m signing off now. Join me again next month to see what’s happening in Functional Skills World.

Maureen

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