Putting Maths and English learning into context

Functional Skills qualifications make Maths and English learning meaningful using real-life examples

04 July 2013

Maths and English skills are surely the most valuable vocational skills of all. Competency in both is imperative in every workplace at every level. So when employers say that skills in Maths and English just aren’t good enough, we need to listen.

Less than 50% of young people achieve a GSCE C grade or equivalent in both Maths and English by the end of their secondary school education. This statistic alone highlights the need for young people to continue developing these skills in their next educational setting.

The new accredited Functional Skills qualifications are designed for this purpose – they help bridge this gap between school and work by giving young people the chance to practise key skills in context. Functional Skills qualifications also differ from the traditional GCSE model; the functional skills curriculum is contextualised and makes use of real life examples. Evidence demonstrates that embedding topics within a meaningful context is a much more effective way of learning and remembering. So, an apprentice in the construction industry might read industry articles when studying English or look at the cost of materials when studying functional Maths. 

Approaching the teaching of Maths and English skills from a functional perspective is more inclusive. The course content is more accessible because learners can practise and apply their knowledge and skills immediately – the course is effectively personalised. Functional Skills qualifications are popular with all stakeholders, including the learners themselves.

However, if these qualifications are designed to be more robust and challenging than equivalents then surely they will present new challenges. Providers will need to allocate more teaching contact time to Functional Skills learning and, in order to achieve this, apprenticeship frameworks will require some re-organisation.

Enlisting help and support during this transition phase will be crucial. The shift to supply providers with online resources, training events, and podcasts means support can be accessed at anytime from anywhere. A worthwhile investment if the Functional Skills curriculum can prepare our learners for employment and progression in the workplace.

Understanding education is at the heart of City & Guilds’ Advance consultancy service. Working with you, we can help your business turn the challenges of an ever-evolving sector into new opportunities and successes.

Find out more at www.cityandguilds.com/advance or call 0800 334 5054


Our research reveals that three quarters of young people demand skills-based training to achieve their ambitions Read full research article