Functional Skills FAQ's

You can request a support visit prior to gaining approval, one of our experienced External Quality Assurers or Examiners will visit you or alternatively you could get in touch with your Business Development Team. The best way to find out is by contacting your Customer Support Advisor. If your query doesn’t warrant a visit you can always contact our dedicated Functional Skills team at our head office on 0191 239 8091.

We don’t have teaching and learning materials as we don’t want to prescribe how the qualifications should be delivered, however we do have a resources page on our Functional Skills website with details of websites and useful resources you can use during delivery of the qualifications. We also have several sample papers available on our website.

No, unfortunately not. These will be live assessment materials which all centres need to use and we can’t change these for individual centres as this does not fit with the regulatory criteria. There is an option to contextualize our internal controlled assessments and please look at the guidance provided with materials. External assessments can’t be adapted.

There are no Functional Skills specific occupational competence guidelines set by the regulator as there were with Key Skills. So, each Awarding Organisation has developed their own guidelines. To deliver/assess our Functional Skills qualifications, centre staff must hold (or be working towards) Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), a PGCE or Certificate in Further Education. They should also have demonstrable experience or knowledge of the subject area. Our guidelines are available in the Occupational Competence Guidelines document.

No – while Key Skills and Basic Skills learners can be swapped between the qualifications, this is because they share the exact same external assessment. Functional Skills have completely different assessments so they’d need to do their Functional Skills assessment even if they’ve completed all or some of their Key/Basic Skill. Any learners registered on Key Skills still have 2 years to complete their assessment, and the Key Skills at levels 1 and 2 have been extended till September 2012 specifically for Apprenticeship learners. If centres have any queries about which set of quals the Apprenticeship framework/SSC accepts then they’ll need to get in touch with the relevant SSC directly.

Each qualification is 45 Guided Learning Hours.

Yes, please sign up for our e-newsletter or if you already receive it, update your email preferences through the link in the footer of these e-newsletters.

The Functional Skills qualifications follow the existing approvals process – simply apply online. Once it’s been processed you’ll be able to start registering your learners. If you’ve any questions contact our Centre Support Team.

Yes, if you apply for approval for one of the Functional Skills you’ll be approved for them all.

On the Portal after gaining approval. An External Quality Assurer will be assigned at the point of first registration in the session for all Entry Level qualifications and L1 and 2 English.

Yes, the ULN is only necessary if your learner is completing a Diploma.

We feel that the times set against our assessments are appropriate to the qualifications and the assessment materials. We have allowed more time for each assessment to ensure learners have the optimum opportunity to engage with the assessment and the source materials and achieve the qualification. However as per any external assessment learners are able to leave the exam early and don’t have to stay there for the full duration. Please see the Regulations for the conduct of External Assessment for more information.

Yes but only in certain cases and they’ll be known as ‘achievement transfer’: Where the learner has already achieved one or 2 of the Functional Skills English components from another Awarding Organisation.

You need to apply for approval to run our Functional Skills qualification, once you’ve received your confirmation email Skills Forward will be in touch within 24 hours to confirm your centre details. If you wish for a demonstration on how Skills Forward works then contact your Centre Support Advisor.

Once your learners are ready to sit their summative assessment you can get them started. It’s up to you to decide when to carry out the assessment and it doesn’t need to be done all at once, learners mustn’t have access to their work between assessment periods. You’ll receive your free 2 External Quality Assurance visits as with other qualifications and can work towards Direct Claims Status which would help support you in the turnaround time for claiming learner certificates. Your learners will need to achieve all 3 components for the English qualifications before receiving a full certificate. As with all of our qualifications in order to claim certificates, you’ll need to complete the certificate claim form with appropriate signatures or use our Online Certification.

There is guidance within the assessment packs which you’ll receive upon registration. You’ll need approval from the External Quality Assurance team before using any contextualisation. There are suggested alternative contexts included within the assessment packs but please bear in mind any contextualisation must still meet the criteria and fulfil the questions asked in the assessment.

Tutors and others from their peer group as long as they are not scheduled to sit the same assessment at a different time.

The controlled assessments are internally quality assured by you and externally quality assured by us depending on your Direct Claims Status.

Yes as long as they’re qualified (see our Occupational Competence Guidelines). However the Assessor cannot be the Internal Quality Assurer.

No – while Key Skills and Basic Skills learners can be swapped between the qualifications, this is because they share the exact same external assessment. Functional Skills have completely different assessments so they’d need to do their Functional Skills assessment even if they’ve completed all or some of their Key/Basic Skill. Any learners registered on Key Skills still have 2 years to complete their assessment, and the Key Skills at levels 1 and 2 have been extended till September 2012 specifically for Apprenticeship learners. If centres have any queries about which set of quals the Apprenticeship framework/SSC accepts then they’ll need to get in touch with the relevant SSC directly.

No, we supply the mark schemes in the pack sent out and your Assessor/Internal Quality Assurer has to apply the marks. Our External Quality Assurer will sample the controlled assessments and ensure the mark scheme is being applied correctly. Any controlled assessment papers sent to us will be returned to the centre.

We offer an on demand assessment model. Select an appropriate date for your learners to sit and their results will be released within 6 working days of the date we receive their completed scripts. Entries can be made through the Portal.

Yes if they’re doing paper based as it’s an essential requirement of the qualification. If you choose to do online this is built in to the assessment so you wouldn’t need additional access to email and internet. You will also need to set up the pre-release data files for your test ahead of the external assessment taking place.

To run online assessments with us you will need to apply here and to fully support you we require your systems to be able to meet the technical specifications here. If your systems do not meet the specifications this does not mean you can not run online assessments, it just means that we may not be able to fully support you if your computers do not meet requirements.

Our online system contains a resilience caching feature that means the exam is temporarily downloaded on to the computer system so if the computer loses connection the learner can continue uninterrupted and you can upload the answers once connection is restored. If the computer crashes the information is also saved and once the computer is restarted the learner should be able to start from where they were when the computer went down.

There are up to 3 sets of sample papers per level per qualification available on the website for every live qualification. We will continually add to these over time. There are also practice assessments available on our online assessment system.

We don’t release details of pass marks for live Functional Skills assessments. The sample mark schemes on our website have pass marks on so you can practice with your learners.

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