Changes to Functional Skills English and Maths assessments | Pearson qualifications

Changes to Functional Skills English and Maths assessments

26 June 2015

From this September, we're making some changes to our assessments for Edexcel Functional Skills English at Level 2 and Mathematics at Levels 1 and 2, in response to Ofqual's thematic review.

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In January 2015 Ofqual published the findings of its Thematic Review of Functional Skills, which focused on English and mathematics Functional Skills qualifications at Level 2. 

Ofqual recognised the importance of the Functional Skills qualifications, but concluded that aspects of them needed to be improved by all awarding organisations offering Functional Skills across 4 key areas:

  • Improving the quality of assessment materials
  • Reducing the risk of malpractice and maladministration
  • Strengthening standard-setting procedures
  • Improving evaluation of how far qualifications are meeting user needs.

In response to Ofqual’s review, we've had a close look at the way we assess Edexcel Functional Skills English at Level 2 and Mathematics at Levels 1 and 2.

What's changing?

Overall, we've tried to ensure that the look and feel of the assessments remains the same, but we've made a number of changes that you'll notice from September 2015 onwards. To prepare you for these changes, we've published a set of revised sample assessment materials.

They are available in both online format, which you can run in a browser, and downloadable zip format, which you can install on your computer. Both formats will allow you to generate a PDF report for each candidate, which can be saved locally and used for marking.

We've also republished the specifications which, for English, show the revised time allowed for the assessments at Level 2, effective from 1 September 2015.

Specification - Level 1 and 2 Mathematics - Issue 4
(PDF 416.9 KB)

Specification - Level 1 and 2 English - Issue 4
(PDF 438.6 KB)

Here's a summary of some of the key differences we'll be introducing.

Across all papers

We've removed the duplication of information in the instructions candidates see on the front of the papers.

Edexcel Functional Skills English Level 2

In Functional Skills English at Level 2, we've made the following changes:

  • We've revised the question paper instructions so that there is no ambiguity for learners.

  • We've extended the length of time for the tests from 45 to 60 minutes, to ensure that learners have enough time to produce sufficient evidence for the assessment.

  • The instruction that full sentences are not required will be removed. Learners who have the ability to respond in full sentences will have the opportunity to do so.

  • Mark schemes will provide more comprehensive lists of acceptable responses.
  • The paper will no longer be divided into 3 sections, each relating to a single text, but will have more questions that ask learners to draw on multiple texts.

  • To make it easier for learners to refer to multiple texts to answer a question, we've reorganised the layout of the paper so that all 3 texts are displayed together at the front of the paper.

  • We will provide texts from authentic sources that have a ‘real world’ context.

  • There will be fewer short-answer and multiple-choice type questions. More questions will require an in-depth response from learners, ensuring that the degree of challenge is appropriate for learners operating at Level 2.

  • Likewise, learners will be asked, on occasion, to justify their answers with supporting examples, which will provide them with the opportunity to develop their responses.

  • Questions will be more open and provide less steering for learners, to enable them to show understanding and independence of thought.

  • Mark schemes will be revised to show the kinds of responses learners operating at different levels could provide, which will aid differentiation.
  • Stimulus material will be more concise and focused to ensure candidates can fully understand the material and provide more effective responses.
  • Standards Verifiers will no longer be able to accept mock assessment for standardisation. You will need to arrange to undertake the assessment on the day of the visit. If it is not possible to schedule this in, you can submit a live recording of the final assessment.

Edexcel Functional Skills Mathematics at Level 1 and 2

  • You'll see a reduction in the number of ‘scaffolded’ questions, which lead learners to an answer. This will ensure that learners are able to demonstrate an independent approach to mathematical problems.

  • We've reviewed the level of demand to ensure that it is appropriate to enable demonstration of skills at the appropriate level. For example, at Level 2 a question relating to a formula might require the manipulation of that formula rather than simply substituting values.

  • Learners will have an increased opportunity to demonstrate their ability to interpret and communicate, including drawing conclusions and providing mathematical justifications.

  • There will be more emphasis and marks awarded for learners demonstrating that they're checking their working. This will enable them to demonstrate that they are able to evaluate and analyse their own effectiveness. An icon on the paper at the appropriate points will show learners where there are marks are available for checking.

  • Questions will require demonstration of the Skills Standards (Representation, Analysis, Interpretation) in a more balanced way, so that learners of all abilities have the opportunity to demonstrate each one.

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