Changes to English & Maths Qualifications
This update gives unions and centres news of recent changes and announcements in the range of qualifications in English and Maths that will be available for funding in 2012/13; and some of the background to what is going on. We will produce further updates as the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) and the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) give more information on how English and Maths programmes are going to be funded, and how the new qualifications picture will fit.
- at Entry level, the existing Adult Literacy and Numeracy qualifications will continue to be available and funded.
- at Level 1 & 2, centres should prepare, and work with partner providers:
- on whether to offer Functional Skills Levels 1 and;
- on how feasible it is to encourage many learners at Level 1 and 2 to go for GCSE English and Maths qualification, given the time commitment that this will entail;
- to watch out for new unit qualifications from the awarding bodies, which the Skills Funding Agency have announced that they will fund from Sept 2012. These may be the best option for many centre learners, and would fit well with centre programmes for English and Maths, and the Climbing Frame structure.
- Centres should continue to "watch this space", while we wait for further information in the next few weeks.
A separate note has been produced for ESOL, and can be found by clicking here.
In 2011, the Government has announced a number of changes to the qualifications in English and Maths that will be recognised and funded beyond 2012. In summary these mean that:
- Key skills qualifications will cease to be available beyond September 2012.
- Skills for Life qualifications at Level 1 and 2 will cease to be registered beyond 2012, although accreditation is available until 2014.
- Functional Skills will replace Key Skills and SfL.
- GCSE qualifications will be funded from September 2012.
Appendix 1 includes the extract from the Skills Funding Agency policy document that clarifies this.
However, there have been some changes and some re-thinking about the new structure of qualifications. For example, there has been concern that Functional Skills qualifications may not meet the needs of some adult learners. In addition, the preparedness of centres to offer FS effectively has been raised as an issue.
As a result, BIS has been developing its policy in this area. In its policy document at the end of 2011, 'New Challenges, New Chances', BIS announced that 'the Government will financially support those who did not achieve basic English and Maths in school. The Skills for Life programmes which enable adults to improve their basic literacy and numeracy skills will be expanded to include and fund those who need GCSE English and / or Maths Level 2.'
The key actions for basic skills announced included:
- Re-establish the terms English and Maths for adults
- Pilot in 2012 how providers can be funded on the basis of the distance a learner has travelled.
- Fund GCSE English and Maths qualifications from September 2012.
- Recognise the differential learning patterns of adults by enabling Awarding Organisations to create standalone units that provide the necessary rigour and flexibility to support progression to a GCSE or other training.
- Confirm that, from the 2012/13 academic year, all Apprenticeship providers will be required to support Apprentices in progressing towards the achievement of Level 2 English and Maths. From October 2012 all Apprentices starting English and Maths courses will be taking Functional Skills or GCSE qualification.
An initial document has been produced by BIS on the "distance travelled" pilot. This could be of importance to union learning centres, as well as others, and we will keep centre staff updated.
On unit funding, Unionlearn has been approached by a major awarding body to comment and participate in a trial of new standalone units for English and Maths (at all levels), with a view to their launch and accreditation by September 2012. These may also fit well with union learning: they allow for accreditation at different levels within the same award; give recognition of achievement in smaller, funded, units; and may help learners to progress, by focusing on the areas of English and Maths where they really need help. Information on how unit funding works can be found on the SFA website by clicking here.
Finally, at the Association of Colleges Conference, 8 February 2012, Susan Pember (BIS) announced that skills for life Entry Level qualifications would continue to be accredited and funded. Further information is needed to fully understand what this means - but at first sight, it looks like good news for centres already working with learners at Entry Level.
If you have any questions, or you have found alternative approaches that will work, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, quoting "English & Maths" in the subject line.
Functional Skills in English, mathematics and ICT at Entry Level, Level 1 and Level 2 were rolled out nationally in 2010/11. These replaced the Key Skill learning aims in Communication, Application of Number and ICT from 1 September 2010 at Levels 1 and 2 delivered through the Adult Single Budget. To note, a further period of transition has been agreed to allow Key Skills to be funded (alongside Functional Skills) in Apprenticeship frameworks up to 30 September 2012.
The end of the accreditation period for Key Skills and Skills for Life qualifications is August 2012. As such, there are sufficient tests in place to continue until 2014. The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills has secured, from Ofqual, confirmation to accredit and regulate revised Skills for Life ESOL qualifications beyond 2012.
(Adult Skills Budget Funding Requirements, 2011/2012, Skills Funding Agency)
Briefing document (500 words) issued 7 Mar 2012