Maureen’s Blog – June 2013 edition

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Welcome back to all things functional! This month has been really busy and as more and more providers offering apprenticeship frameworks have started their preparations to deliver functional skills and are looking for support. This is good news and AELP support this trend. They have just released their latest survey ‘Key Skills to Functional Skills’ on how prepared their members are for implementation. They report a significant shift in their members’ readiness to deliver Functional Skills, with 80% feeling confident that they will be able to successfully deliver the qualifications by October 2012.

Those delivering to adults have also taken up the challenge and have been well represented at the functional skills events I have been running and attending during May. Family learning managers have been out in force; it’s good to see that parents will be offered functional skills development. Shame that most schools seem to have reverted back to a GCSE diet. Let’s hope that they retain some of the creative-teaching developed in the pilot.

With the increase in interest there has been a rush to develop resources, LSIS have launched a Functional Skills Starter Kit on their Excellence Gateway website www.excellencegateway.org.uk/node/20280. It has a comprehensive overview of policy through to developing effective practice, with some useful case studies. Much of the information is repurposed from other strategies, but materials are still worth looking at. Most of the resources are geared to managers and leaders who will be responsible for the implementation in their organisations. Not much for the practitioner on the ground. But good old Nelson Thornes have stepped into the breach and have produced an audit for practitioners with a series of subject specific Fact Sheets; there is one for each subject.

Along with the increasing amount of resources available there are lots more events for you to attend to pick up ideas and information. Nelson Thornes and their partner For Skills have teamed-up with NCFE and are holding an event in London on the 4th July. It’s free, so book now and come and meet me and the team. We’ve lots to tell you and can point you on your way to good functional skills delivery.

We are not alone in wanting to support you in your implementation, Awarding Organisations, private training companies and LSIS and AELP are all working to the same objective. There are also lots of apprenticeship events which will inevitability focus on functional skills and we’ve picked up that NIACE are also running conferences for the adult community. So we’ve put together everything we know about on a calendar so that you have a good summary of what’s coming up…some are free and some have a registration fee. We will update the calendar as we hear of new events, so keep looking because they are sure to keep coming!

As Skills for Life qualifications disappear awarding organisations are beginning to develop their new QCF English and maths qualifications which will act as small stepping stones towards the full functional skills for adults as Skills for Life qualifications disappear. It looks like OCR are winning the race with their Proficiency Awards but there are others close behind. I’ll let you have more details as soon as I hear.

Good news that the no-notice Ofsted inspections will not be implemented after all . This gives us a chance to make sure that the inspectorate sees the best of our organisations. I heard Matthew Coffey at a conference last week confirming that one of the key aspects of inspection for post-16 providers will be ‘good teaching and learning to develop English and mathematics, including functional skills, to support the achievement of learning goals and career aims’. It’s clear that functional skills needs to be at the centre of organisational development, so keep on pushing this guys, so that everyone gets the message!

The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) were at the same conference and Sarah Benioff supported the need for good functional skills delivery to ensure apprentices were being developed to achieve their potential; and added a reminder for those who haven’t caught up with it yet…the apprenticeship delivery model must be designed so that all apprentices who do not have Level 2 in English and maths are given the opportunity to progress towards it, irrespective of the framework requirements.

More on inspection and some thoughts on how to utilise funding in next month’s blog. So, I will see you next month with more news from Functional Skills World.

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