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Jonathan Wells
The UK's leading provider of Functional Skills Resources and Initial Assessment
The UK's leading provider of Functional Skills Resources and Initial Assessment


Compulsory maths to age 18? Some thoughts:

A significant problem area in GCSE is understanding and applying interest rates. Too many learners fail to attempt these questions leading to significant deficiencies in financial numeracy, even where learners pass GCSE at grade C.
Too much focus at secondary school is applied to "passing GCSE" rather than numeracy to support an active citizenship life.
88% of learners who do not achieve level 4 in their SATS at age 11 will go on to fail GCSE.
A learner who has failed GCSE resit more than twice is very unlikely to be engaged and motivated to pass in the future.
GCSE Maths is an abstract concept - it is complex maths in a simple context. Whereas real life problems almost always demand simple and straightforward maths in a complex context.

AoC and AELP statements - helping influence Government spending
The autumn statement by the chancellor is a time when policy statements either stay statements or get an allocated budget for implementation.

It sets the theme for Government spending and is influenced by many things. Both the AELP (on behalf of more than 800 training providers) and AoC (on behalf of colleges) have published their "pre-autumn statement" statement.

The AoC has two key recommendations amongst many other ideas. They are:

HM Treasury should set a medium-term target to increase spending on education and training to 5% of GDP and direct a share of the additional funding to post-16 education.
The management of education spending should be reformed to improve efficiency, to allocate funds to areas of greatest need and to provide more predictability.
AELP have prepapred a two page, used at the recent party conferences to outline the main concerns of the training provider sector.

I think it's fair to say the neither are earth shattering but they are worth a read to see how the key sector organisations are thinking as we head towards things like levy implementation in 2017.

CPD webinars for those supporting English and maths in Apprenticeships
The ETF, AELP and CETT Academy are running a series of low cost webinars covering key areas of support for English and maths including:
Contextualisation and embedding
Learner anxiety and resistance
Employer support
Mentoring and motivating

Planning delivery

What would you like to see at the ForSkills/NCFE regional roadshows
We are planning a rolling programme of roadshow events with the first set scheduled for the week of November 21st. We'll be visiting three locations around the country during the week and we'll be inviting customers as well as those looking to upgrade to SkillsBuilder and SkillsPortfolio.

Each event will feature a range of highly engaging activities including:

Hands on with the customer engagement team
Making your investment go further - ensuring that your investment is delivering maximum benefit and value for money
Learning from others - case study experience.
We'll have a range of subject and qualification experts at each event, but here's the crunch - what would make this event even more valuable for you? Please tell us what you would like to see at the regional roadshows by emailing me direct.

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Now part of the NCFE group, ForSkills is growing faster than ever as more and more customers upgrade their assessment, diagnostic and on-line systems for maths and English to SkillsBuilder.

So if you love the idea of helping new customers both acquire and then engage with SkillsBuilder, and are passionate about English and maths, then have a quick look at this.

And on the subject of maths and English, if we could remind you that you can now order Initial Assessment booklets and Screeners for maths, English and ICT on-line with delivery from stock.

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GCSE re-sit policy fails more than 70% of 17 year olds
A very good piece of analysis was published by FE Week following the release of GCSE results data last week.

Just 27% of 17+ learners who took GCSE English achieved grade C or above leaving 93,000 failures who have wasted another year with Mark Dawe of AELP saying “Surely this is evidence enough that hitting students over the head with the same form of learning and assessment is not the way forward."

Maths was even worse with more than 120,000 failing again - just over 50,000 learners managed to turn their D into a C+.

The implications of the re-sit policy means that providers cannot offer the best or most appropriate qualification for many learners - the figures now show how big that problem really is.

Functional Skills reform programme

As part of the Functional Skills Reform Programme, alongside the revision to the national standards for adult literacy and numeracy, ETF have also published draft subject content for maths and English Functional Skills qualifications.

The opportunity to comment on the proposed subject content for Functional Skills represents the final stage of the first phase and is open until September 12th.

Meanwhile, the opportunity to comment on the second draft of the revised standards for literacy and numeracy is open until this Friday 19 August - that's 5pm TODAY!

It's been a busy summer at ForSkills!

On the company side
ForSkills is now part of the NCFE group. NCFE is a major Awarding Organisation well known throughout the sector for innovation, brilliant customer service and a fantastic organisation to work and for! ForSkills will continue to operate as autonomous company but with the backing and financial strength of a major educational charity behind us.

Maths and English
Assessments and diagnostics covering the new GCSE 9-1 specification have been released to support all customers who start delivering these in September.

The ForSkills Go app now includes SkillsBuilder We have added a number of videos for SkillsBuilder (as well as general help and tips videos). These are linked to a learner’s Individual Skills Plan so they will be directed to the videos linked to the topic areas they need to work one.

New Sampling Plan Overview in SkillsPortfolio
We have added a Sampling Plan Overview grid that allows IQAs to see which types of evidence and units they have sampled evidence across from the planned sampling periods. This new grid also allows IQAs to plan the units and evidence type they wish to sample in the future and allows them to see quickly and visually where they have verified according to their plan.

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Functional Skills Reform Programme
Continuing to the next stage of the Functional Skills Reform Programme, ETF launch the consultation on the draft revised Standards for literacy and numeracy. These draft Standards will be available for feedback from 4th – 25th July.

The questionnaire and a link to both sets of Standards (along with FAQs) are available here: Participation from anyone with an interest in Functional Skills qualifications is welcomed by ETF and PyeTait.

I've read them and what jumps out to me is the extensive "real-life" nature of the examples given and the detail by which the standards are described.

It does show that Functional Skills reform programme is progressing well and I'm confident we'll end up with a rigorous, up to date and valuable set of qualifications moving forward.
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