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Functional Skills updates

The reformed Functional Skills qualifications (4748) are now live and learners have taken assessments at all levels.

Thank you for all your contributions throughout the design, development and transition phases and for your ongoing support as we begin to implement the new qualifications.

We understand that there is a lot to get to grips with around the new Functional Skills qualifications, so we would like to cover some of the key areas in this update:

  • Flexibility of exam dates
  • Invigilation
  • Centre approval
  • Digital resources and exam preparation
  • Additional support

Flexibility of exam dates

In our new offer, we've retained all the flexibility we can within the new requirements. This provides you with the flexibility you need for successful delivery of the new qualifications. We still have:

  • Entry Level assessments available on demand
  • English and Mathematics Level 1 and 2 Functional Skills exams available on demand, on paper and on screen

One question raised is flexibility of a Level 1 or 2 exam date once it has been scheduled. Exams should be taken on the date booked, but if that needs to change, in exceptional circumstances, you will need to let us know. You can do this by using our online exam change notification form.

There is more information in section 1.1.5 of the Instructions for conducting examinations for Level 1 and 2 Functional Skills Maths and English document. If your exam can be taken within the timeframes provided in this section of the document, there is no need to re-book the exam.

If you aren’t sure about a particular circumstance, feel free to contact us to check.

Invigilation

One of the key aims of the reform programme is to raise the status of Functional Skills alongside other maths and English qualifications. As a result, there is now a more direct focus on security of assessment material: one aspect of this is invigilation.

We have worked with other Awarding Organisations and our regulator to arrive at a set of principles which demonstrate how we meet our regulatory requirements for invigilation of Level 1 and Level 2 Functional Skills exams in maths and English. We have published this on our Functional Skills webpage.

We have also published a new document Instructions for conducting examinations for Level 1 and 2 Functional Skills Maths and English which explains the requirements for invigilation and keeping materials confidential.

Recently, Ofqual published an additional statement on Functional Skills invigilation which you can view on their blog.

The document explains that Ofqual has agreed that awarding organisations will decide where to allow exceptions on the grounds of:

  • restrictions within the centre on the grounds of security or safeguarding; or
  • where an assessment is conducted at the candidate’s workplace and an assessment centre is not available locally; or
  • the remote location of the candidate’s workplace/assessment location; or
  • as part of a reasonable adjustment request for a specific learner

If this applies to your situation and you believe you may need an exception, you will need to complete a short form describing your situation and the actions you will take to mitigate any risk to live assessment materials or potential conflicts of interest. Here is a link to the online form.

The Instructions for conducting examinations for Level 1 and 2 Functional Skills Maths and English has also been updated to reflect these changes.

Centre approval

In July we launched a fast track centre approval process to help you get up and running with Functional Skills quickly. We have processed all the requests that have been received and continue to process new applications swiftly.

As there are some important changes to the way Functional Skills are delivered, we want to make sure you are set up for success as soon as you start to deliver. For this reason, we include a centre self-assessment document. This information helps us ensure up front that you are well prepared for all the changes you need to make. This also means that, in most cases, you will be able to carry forward your current Functional Skills (3748) qualification approval status.

We have now made our fast track documentation and process more straightforward and no longer request a list of assessment sites as part of this process.

If you wish to apply for the new Functional Skills (4748) qualifications and do not currently have approval for (3748), you will need to apply via the QAP form on the Walled Garden Quality Portal.

You can find out more about this process by reading our user guide.

We are here to help you

If you have any problems understanding the process or completing the documentation, we are always happy to support you with this.

Feel free to email us if you need more support at FS.Quality@cityandguilds.com.

Digital resources and exam preparation

We have a full range of digital teaching and learning resources to support our new Functional Skills qualifications - e-Functional Skills Reloaded and SmartScreen.

Our e-Functional Skills Reloaded Initial Assessment is available for purchase at just £1 per learner per skill. Visit our digital resources for learners and tutors section for more information.

OpenAssess

Our aim is to support your learners achieve successful outcomes. If you aren’t already using our new OpenAssess on screen practice test platform, you can find out more about it on the OpenAssess webpage.

Performance feedback

We have also significantly improved the feedback available for maths and English paper-based exams at Level 1 and Level 2. You and your learners will understand how they performed in their exams and what they need to work on to improve or reach the next level.

Access performance codes for paper-based exams >

We will keep you informed of further improvements to this service in future communications. Centre Analytics continues to provide detailed score reports for learners who take their tests on screen.

Additional support

To support you further, we will be making contact with you shortly to check on how the implementation is going.

If you would like us to get in touch to discuss a particular query, please complete this form and email us at fsreform@cityandguilds.com.

We will contact you to understand your needs and how we can help you.

Administration and invigilation of Functional Skills exams – Joint statement by awarding organisations

The following statement is the Joint Awarding Organisation position on administration of level 1 and 2 Functional Skills Examinations.

The head of centre must ensure that:

Administration of exams

(‘Administration’ includes initial receipt of confidential materials, secure storage, movement and preparation of materials for scheduled assessments, and registration, secure storage and return of materials to the awarding organisation after scheduled exams are completed).

a. No tutor of a Functional Skills qualification can be involved in the administration of the assessment materials for level 1 and 2 exams in that subject, regardless of the level they teach.

Invigilation of exams

b. A Functional Skills subject tutor must not be involved in the invigilation of that subject, even if they have not taught those candidates (i.e., a Functional Skills English tutor must not invigilate any Functional Skills English exam and a Functional Skills Maths tutor must not invigilate any Functional Skills Maths exam, regardless of the level they teach).

Exceptions

A centre must ensure that it has a suitable invigilator available for all level 1 and 2 Functional Skills exams.

There are no automatic exceptions to this rule. In exceptional circumstances, where only a tutor can access the assessment location and/or the candidates, some adjustment may be granted by prior arrangement with, and at the discretion of, the awarding organisation.

Any exception on these grounds must be agreed by City & Guilds in advance of the exam date. An exception may also require the centre to agree to additional measures to ensure the security of materials and additional monitoring by City & Guilds.


Events

Regional networks - Functional Skills English

Come join our brand-new series of regional network events, to bring City & Guilds’ customers together to discuss aspects of the reformed Functional Skills qualifications, or our wider maths and English offer.

The first wave of these networks will focus on the new Functional Skills Qualification in English at levels 1 and 2.

You will spend a half day with the City & Guilds maths and English team, giving you an opportunity to network, share insights and good practise with fellow practitioners and receive the latest updates from the team.

Due to the popularity of our events we ask that a maximum of two people from each organisation to attend. This is a free event.

Each session will last no more than three hours, and we’re arranging dates for regions across the UK.

We will be releasing dates for further waves of networks in due course, covering:

  • FS Mathematics at levels 1 and 2
  • FS English at Entry level
  • FS Mathematics at Entry level
  • ESOL Skills for Life
  • Employability

Event listings

City & Guilds English Network Meeting - Warrington

Date & Time: 12 November – 10.00-13.00

Register now

City & Guilds English Network Meeting - Telford

Date & Time: 19 November – 10.00-13.00

Register now

City & Guilds English Network Meeting - Norwich

Date & Time: 20 November – 13.00-16.00

Register now

City & Guilds English Network Meeting - Swindon College

Date & Time: 21 November – 9.30-12.30

Register now

City & Guilds English Network Meeting - Burntwood

Date & Time: 25 November – 10.00-13.00

Register now

City & Guilds English Network Meeting - Kendal College

Date & Time: 26 November – 13.00-16.00

Register now

City & Guilds English Network Meeting - Plymouth

Date & Time: 27 November – 10.00-13.00

Register now

City & Guilds English Network Meeting - London East

Further details to follow, booking available soon

City & Guilds English Network Meeting - New College Durham

Date & Time: 27 November – 10.00-13.00

Register now

City & Guilds English Network Meeting - Halifax

Date & Time: 28 November – 10.00-13.00

Register now

Regional networks - Functional Skills Mathematics

We invite to join us for our next round of networks events, following the launch of our reformed Functional Skills qualifications.

Come join us for our next regional event, which brings together City & Guilds’ customers to network and discuss aspects of the reformed Functional Skills qualifications and our wider maths and English offer.

The second wave of these networks will focus on the new Functional Skills qualifications in Mathematics at levels 1 and 2. It will provide an opportunity to network, share insights and good practice with fellow practitioners and receive the latest updates from the team.

Due to the popularity of our events we ask that a maximum of two people from each organisation to attend. This is a free event.

Each session will last no more than three hours, and we’re arranging dates for regions across England.

We will be releasing dates for further waves of networks in due course, covering:

  • FS English at Entry level
  • FS Mathematics at Entry level
  • ESOL Skills for Life
  • Employability

Event listings

City & Guilds Mathematics Network Meeting - Workshop

Date & Time: 4 December – 13.30-16.30

Register now

City & Guilds Mathematics Network Meeting - Burntwood

Date & Time: 17 December – 10.00-13.00

Register now

City & Guilds Mathematics Network Meeting - Stoke on Trent

Date & Time: 7 January – TBA

Further details to follow, booking available soon

City & Guilds Mathematics Network Meeting - London South

Date & Time: 8 January – TBA

Further details to follow, booking available soon

City & Guilds Mathematics Network Meeting - Wakefield

Date & Time: 14 January – 10.00-13.00

Register now

City & Guilds Mathematics Network Meeting - London

Date & Time: 15 January – 10.00-13.00

Register now

City & Guilds Mathematics Network Meeting - London East

Further details to follow, booking available soon

City & Guilds Mathematics Network Meeting - Eastern

Further details to follow, booking available soon

Useful documents

The 4748 Qualification page is the home for all documents and guidance to support you. The ‘Information’ tab contains key information about the suite of qualifications while the ‘Documents’ tab is the repository for:

  • Qualification Handbooks by subject and level
  • Entry Level Assessor Instructions
  • Instructions for Conducting Exams (ICE) document, which applies to Level 1 and 2
  • The first sample assessments for each subject and level, with further samples to be added in due course, once the bank of live assessments has been developed
  • FAQs

These documents will be updated as we introduce the new qualifications and in line with your feedback, so please make sure that you and your colleagues are signed-up to our preference centre. Please also always check that you are working to the latest versions.

Assessment / Exam availability

  • Live Entry Level Assessments (and the passwords required to download them) will be available from 30 September 2019
  • Level 1/2 Reading and Writing exams available to book from 16 September 2019
  • Level 1/2 Mathematics exams available to book from 16 September 2019

On-screen exams are available to sit half-an-hour after booking, paper delivered exams must be booked 14 days in advance of the exam date.

OpenAssess

OpenAssess is our new tool which allows candidates to practice the on-screen exams for Levels 1 & 2 Functional Skills Maths and English in an environment that replicates the live exam platform e-volve SecureAssess. Their responses are then saved so that their teacher or assessor can login to mark the learners’ attempt and provide a score report which gives them feedback on their performance.

Currently, sample assessments for the legacy Functional Skills qualification are loaded in the system but we are going to be adding the samples for the reformed qualification as they are added to the website.

Contact your exams team or the person in your organisation who is the Primary Contact for the live evolve system for access to the system.

Keeping up to date

We will be sharing news and updates via our email alert system so please ensure that you have signed up to receive news about Functional Skills in our preference centre. These alerts and other news, such as Network dates and information about our new Maths & English webinars, can be found on this page. You can also view webinar recordings and download slide decks for our Functional Skills reform webinar series, that ran from August 2018 to July 2019 with useful resources, such as the Maths and English mapping documents.

Support

We are developing a resourcing hub that will have content about our Digital Resource platform, SmartScreen, that is full of new and exciting content, complete with a resource guide which maps which resources support each subject content statement in the reformed qualification.

There will also be videos about our e-Functional Skills Re-loaded platform, which is an end-to-end learning resource that can be accessed by learners, or be used to support classroom delivery.

We are also publishing a “10-Step Guide” which puts all the tips to help you find the information you need, in one place. We’re also developing a series of “How to…” videos, which are brief clips designed to help you and your colleagues navigate your way around the new qualifications. We’ll let you know when these are ready and available.


Past Functional Skills updates

Summer 2019

Functional Skills updates

We are pleased to announce we have completed Ofqual's technical evaluation process for reformed English and Mathematics Functional Skills (4748) qualifications at all levels - Entry and Levels 1 and 2. First teaching will be September 2019. We have now launched a new 4748 qualification web page and will begin to publish updated draft sample assessment and support materials from Monday 22 July.

Fast Track approval process for existing customers is now open. To complete Fast Track or Qualification Approval (QAP) please visit our 4748 Qualifications page and refer to our ‘Centre Documents’ section under the 'Documents' tab.

Please read our instructions for completing Functional Skills (4748) Fast track or QAP approval process document.

 

Functional Skills 2019 reform

With the publication of Ofqual’s final conditions, requirements and guidance for the reformed Functional Skills qualifications, we are pleased to announce that the development of our new Functional Skills offer and qualifications for first teaching from September 2019, is now underway.

We are hosting a series of webinars and free face-to-face events to update customers and gather feedback on the reforms and the development of our wider offer.

Join in on our series of free face-to-face events >

July 2019

Functional Skills updates

We are pleased to announce we have completed Ofqual's technical evaluation process for reformed Level 1 and Level 2 English and Mathematics Functional Skills. We will keep you informed of progress with Entry level.

In our February #FunSkills2019 webinar, we shared information about our progress towards delivering reformed Functional Skills for September 2019.

We have since published draft versions of our new sample exams for Functional Skills Mathematics, Reading and assessment materials for Speaking, Listening & Communicating at levels 1 and 2. Draft samples for Writing and Entry level and will follow shortly.

Designing the new exams

We’ve been working on the design of our new Functional Skills exams and internal assessments since the new Department for Education (DfE) Functional Skills subject content and Ofqual Conditions and Requirements documents were published last year.

Customer feedback and involvement have been central to this work. We have made a point of reviewing all of the recommendations and feedback we have received over the past few years and, where possible, addressed these points, leading to much improved maths and English exams for both on screen and paper delivery.

As we have said in our webinars, the Functional Skills reforms bring new challenges and increased rigour – both of which we welcome. Ofqual is expecting greater consistency across awarding organisations and more security around assessment delivery, particularly where exams are delivered on demand. We do not expect this to involve any significant changes for the majority of you, but we’ll be consulting widely to ensure the reformed qualifications can still be delivered with the current level of flexibility across all settings, but with the right level of security and rigour.

Technical Evaluation and collaboration

We have also explained during our webinars that all awarding bodies intending to offer the reformed Functional Skills qualifications are currently submitting sample assessments and delivery plans to Ofqual for Technical Evaluation.

Our approach has been to phase our submissions, enabling us to incorporate feedback from each phase of the submission in to the next. We are on track with our plans, making good progress with Mathematics and English at Levels 1 and 2, and with submission of Entry level imminent.

We have also worked with other awarding organisations to agree common standards for the level of performance candidates will need to demonstrate in order to pass each of the new qualifications.

Helping you prepare

Earlier in this update, we mentioned the publication of our draft sample exams for Functional Skills English at levels 1 and 2, with Entry to follow. Please make sure you are signed up to receive Functional Skills alerts, so we can let you know as soon as they are available to view.

In common with all Functional Skills awarding organisations, any draft sample exams we publish remain subject to Ofqual evaluation.

As we move through the Technical Evaluation process, we will supplement these materials with more detailed specification and delivery guidance.

To view our materials, view the documents tab on this page and then on additional documents.

Launch events

We will announce details of our launch events for the reformed Functional Skills qualifications during the next #FunSkills2019 monthly webinar on Wednesday 6 March. A calendar of dates/venues, with links to sign up for these, will be added to our Functional Skills Updates page.

The launch events will provide a detailed overview of the reforms and will include a ‘walk through’ of all our new exams and assessments (both on screen and paper), as well as the revised delivery arrangements and full range of support available to you.

We always welcome your feedback on our progress and developments, so please send this through to our dedicated inbox fsreform@cityandguilds.com. Please also continue to keep up with our monthly webinars for regular progress updates.

The focus of our next webinar will be the range of digital learning resources we’re developing to support teaching, learning and exam preparation for reformed Functional Skills.

Sign up here to join the webinar >

17 April 2019

e-volve OpenAssess now live!

e-volve OpenAssess, our new, free, Functional Skills practice test service is now live!

With OpenAssess learners can do our Functional Skills on-screen sample tests in a replicated version of the live test environment – so it’s just like doing a live test. What’s more teachers can access their learners’ answers, mark them, and share results with the learner.

Emails have been sent to Functional Skills centres’ e-volve SecureAssess Primary and Technical contacts, and Functional Skills contacts with the web addresses needed to access to the system. For more information, please also see the new OpenAssess page, with an introductory presentation and user guides.

If your centre is not currently using our on-screen test platform but would like to find out more, please visit our dedicated evolve page.

16 April 2018

Following their consultation last year the DfE have published the new Functional Skills subject content for English and mathematics from Entry 1 to Level 2. From September 2019 Functional Skills all new assessments will be based on this subject content. The DfE also published their response to the consultation and an equality impact assessment, links below:

Functional Skills Subject Content English

Functional Skills Subject Content Mathematics

Functional Skills Consultation Government Response

Subject Content Equality Impact Assessment

Ofqual have also launched a consultation on implementing Functional Skills reform, which we will be responding to. More information can be found at:

Implementing Functional Skills Reform

We will be hosting a series of update webinars to help customers understand the changes and implications. We’ll be sending out dates for these and how you can book in due course.

If you have any questions, comments or feedback on the reform please email us at fsreform@cityandguilds.com.

Please also ensure that you and your colleagues are signed up to receive Functional Skills email updates.


Coming soon! OpenAssess – our new Functional Skills onscreen practice assessment tool

We’re in the final stages of testing OpenAssess, our new, free, onscreen practice assessment tool for Functional Skills centres and learners.

With OpenAssess your learners can do our on-screen sample tests in a replicated version of the live test environment – so it’s just like doing a live test. What’s more teachers can access their learners’ answers, mark them and give them feedback.

To find out more about the benefits and how you can get access, download our OpenAssess presentation.