It seems that the world has gone functional skills crazy.

Maureen-Emmett_blog_v2bI have been really busy training, attending conferences, speaking at events, all of which are heavily oversubscribed and filled with delegates keen to find out how to deliver effective functional skills, as both key skills and functional skills qualifications draw to a close. Watch out for final registration and certification dates for key skills and Skills for Life qualifications. The Nelson Thornes Fact Sheets have a summary of the timeline. It would be a good idea to download them.

So what are people saying?

There are three things they are focused on:
Firstly, how can we be sure that we are delivering effectively so that our learners can achieve what seem to be much tougher exams than we had with key skills?
Secondly, where are the resources to support the delivery?
And thirdly, how can we afford to fund the extra time we think the learners will need to ensure that they are successful?

I’ve been dishing out the Nelson Thornes Fact Sheets to help with the delivery and resources issues, including useful links of where you can get free resources.  It was pleasing to see one delegate turn up for training with their Nelson Thornes ring binder packed full of functional skills information! So if you haven’t signed up for these, get onto it now. So there’s help for issues one and two.

But what it really comes down to is…funding. It seems that there is little consistency in the sector and whilst everyone is being squeezed, some are being squeezed harder than others!  The cry from the providers who are working with apprentices is that their trainees have been at school for over a decade and yet many still emerge at Entry 3. Let’s remind ourselves, Entry 3 is lower than the expected level children should reach at primary school. And then with less than £150 of funding apprentice providers are expected to move the trainees at least one level higher, and in some cases two! Come on funding guys, this is hardly fair. We don’t quite know what happens in secondary school, as the learners that emerge do not seem to have progressed their English and maths skills, and those with qualifications don’t always seem to be much better than those without. We hope for better equipped learners as the emphasis on maths and English starts to impact, but we have to deal with the learners now. Proposals for 2013/14 look as if there may be a slightly more realistic approach, but next year is going to be tough, as the sector needs to both invest in up-skilling staff to deliver functional skills, with little government funded support, and then to deliver harder qualifications.

So before you pack your sun cream and head off for warmer (and drier) climates, or put your feet up to watch the Olympics, make sure that you post a comment so that we can support AELP and FAB who are busy lobbying on our behalf.

I’m taking a blogging break for the summer, but I won’t be idle. I’m going to gather up examples of how providers are successfully implementing functional skills to share with you in September, when there will be with more news and information from Functional Skills World.