What does the Wolf Report say about Functional Skills?

Tue Apr 05 11:00:00 UTC 2011

Functional Skills may not be mentioned in the report’s main recommendations, but Professor Wolf remains a big advocate of literacy and numeracy skills.

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Although Functional Skills as a qualification is not discussed in the Wolf Report’s 27 overarching recommendations, it is referred to in Appendix VIII: Mathematics and English Post-16, with a huge focus on the continued need for English and maths in 16-19  education.

Drawing on evidence taken from the pilot study of Functional Skills, the Wolf Report raises some concerns about their implementation. These concerns were similarly highlighted during the pilot study, and were addressed during this period.

Alison Wolf comments that Functional Skills pass rates are lower than those for Key Skills. This is still true post-pilot, and on one level may be due to this being a new qualification. However, this should not take away from the fact that Functional Skills are challenging, worthwhile qualifications, denoting a marker of student excellence. Our Functional Skills results will be published online shortly to reflect this.

The Wolf Report advocates Maths and English GCSEs as ‘key indicators of acceptable levels of attainment’. How do Functional Skills sit alongside this?

Since the launch of Functional Skills, these qualifications have been designed to exist alongside GCSEs. They have been mapped to their corresponding GCSEs, with the functional elements now embedded into the new GCSE specifications. Functional Skills have been directly designed in response to employers’ perceptions that many young people and adults are not achieving a firm enough grounding of the basics.

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