fbpx
[google-translator] Centre Login

Functional Skills Exams and COVID-19

Skillsfirst logo

On this page, you will find a summary of communications from Skillsfirst regarding legacy and reformed Functional skills. All of this information has come directly from Skillsfirst themselves and is republished here. It has not originated from VTCT.

For all queries relating to these updates, please contact customerservices@skillsfirst.co.uk

or visit the Skillsfirst website

 

 

Legacy Functional Skills English and Maths Levels 1 and 2 (FSE01, FSE02, FSM01, FSM02) Final assessment and certification dates

We would like to take this opportunity to remind centres that the final date for legacy Functional Skills English and Maths Level 1 and 2 onscreen assessments is Friday 28th May 2021.

Please note, learners have a maximum of four opportunities to take onscreen exams during the period 1st August 2020 – 28th May 2021 (this does not include any failed attempts prior to these dates). If learners fail the exam after the fourth attempt, the centre will be required to transfer the learner to the relevant Reformed Functional Skills qualification.

Speaking, Listening and Communication (SLC) assessments for legacy Functional Skills English Level 1 and 2 must also be completed and submitted to Skillsfirst no later than Friday 28th May 2021.

We strongly recommend that customers submit results to Skillsfirst for those SLC assessments which have already taken place on an ongoing basis, rather than waiting for learners to pass the Reading and Writing components. If you do not have direct claim status, please ensure you contact Skillsfirst to arrange a remote monitoring activity for the SLC component.

Paper-based assessment opportunities are no longer available for these qualifications.

If learners have not achieved a pass for Functional Skills Maths Level 1 or 2, or all three components of Functional Skills English Level 1 or 2 by Friday 28th May 2021, they will need to be registered on the relevant Reformed Functional Skills qualification.

The final certification date is 28th July 2021.

Please ensure that anyone involved in the delivery of legacy Functional Skills English and Maths is aware of these timescales, including assessors, tutors, invigilators and administrators.

Functional Skills proctoring (remote invigilation)

Skillsfirst’s proctoring (remote invigilation) solution has enabled more than 1k learners to complete their Functional Skills exams.

The offer includes:

  • Level 1 or 2 Maths and English exams invigilated by independent Skillsfirst invigilators
  • Flexible booking times
  • Invigilation fees £25 per exam
  • Results in 6-10 working days
  • PDF versions of certificates

If you are interested in offering this solution to your learners and want to find out more, please get in touch via workwithus@skillsfirst.co.uk

Please note, centres are not permitted to carry out remote invigilation themselves using software such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Skype. All remote invigilation must be conducted using Skillsfirst’s proctoring service.

UPDATE: Teacher Assessed Grades (TAG) Guidance for Functional Skills

Further to recent communications related to Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGS) for Functional Skills qualifications, please find attached version 2 of Skillsfirst’s Guide to Teacher Assessed Grades for Functional Skills qualifications in 2021. This includes the process for submitting TAG results into the XAMS platform, as outlined in Section 5.1. For your ease of reference, all changes made to the content of this document since the previous version are highlighted in yellow.

We have also attached for your convenience:

•    Head of Centre declaration (version 2)
•    Functional Skills TAG submission spreadsheet
•    Exemplar of the TAG spreadsheet
•    FS TAG additional guidance document (to be used when completing the submission spreadsheet).

We would like to take this opportunity to remind you that Ofqual’s approach to Functional Skills assessments, in line with the directive from the Department for Education, is that all Functional Skills assessments should continue wherever possible, either face-to-face (where it is safe to do so, in line with Public Health England guidance) or via remote invigilation.

Functional Skills Qualifications, therefore, offer a TAG option as a last resort only. This is only for learners expected to be entered for assessment between 1st August 2020 and 31st August 2021.

If you have any queries relating to this update please email Skillsfirst Customer Services.

Extension to Legacy Functional Skills, 29th April

Extension to Legacy Functional Skills English and Maths Levels 1 and 2

The Secretary of State for Education has agreed to further extend the certification end dates for legacy Functional Skills qualifications in Maths and English to 31st July 2021. The deadline for certificate claims is 29th July 2021.

Skillsfirst Awards will be extending their qualifications in line with this date. Hopefully, this will allow sufficient time for learners to complete outstanding assessments given the ongoing disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic.

For information, the final onscreen testing date for learners completing their legacy Functional Skills exams will be Friday 28th May 2021. We do not plan to offer any paper-based assessment opportunities for these qualifications but will continue to accept reasonable adjustment requests on a case-by-case basis.

Please note, as previously communicated by Skills First Awards, learners have two attempts to pass their legacy exams onscreen in each subject between 3rd August 2020 – 31st May 2021, this does not include any failed attempts prior to these dates.

Skills First Awards final registration and certification dates for ICT Functional Skills remain unchanged.

For more information please visit www.skillsfirst.co.uk

Functional Skills Update, 30th March

Functional Skills requirements for Level 2 Apprenticeships

The ESFA have announced that the current temporary flexibility that suspends the funding rule requiring level 2 apprentices to study towards and take a functional skills assessment at level 2 has been extended until the 31st July 2021.

A level 2 apprentice will still require a level 1 in English and maths to complete their apprenticeship. The temporary suspension applies to both apprenticeship standards and frameworks.

For more information please read this ESFA update.

We will also communicate separately to our Apprenticeship contacts with further information tomorrow.

Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs)

Skillsfirst has been working closely with The Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB) Functional Skills Group to agree on a common approach to Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs), following the policy position set out by the Department for Education.

The Group has produced a paper that outlines the approach to TAGs for all Functional Skills subjects (both Legacy and Reformed). This is a FAB document, agreed across all Functional Skills awarding organisations (AOs). We are sharing this for transparency to show how the AOs share common underpinning principles in relation to Functional Skills TAGs.

Skillsfirst will issue centre guidance, including details of processes and timescales for TAGs, later this week.

Functional Skills proctoring (remote invigilation)

Skillsfirst’s proctoring (remote invigilation) solution has enabled more than 1k learners to complete their Functional Skills exams.

The offer includes:
•    Level 1 or 2 Maths and English exams invigilated by independent Skillsfirst invigilators
•    Flexible booking times
•    Invigilation fees £25 per exam
•    Results in 6-10 working days
•    PDF versions of certificates

If you are interested in offering this solution to your learners and want to find out more, please get in touch via workwithus@skillsfirst.co.uk

Please note, centres are not permitted to carry out remote invigilation themselves using software such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Skype. All remote invigilation must be conducted using Skillsfirst’s proctoring service.

Legacy Functional Skills English and Maths Levels 1 and 2 (FSE01, FSE02, FSM01, FSM02)
Final assessment and certification dates

We would like to take this opportunity to remind customers that the final date for legacy Functional Skills English and Maths Level 1 and 2 onscreen assessments is Friday 28th May 2021.

Please note, learners have a maximum of four opportunities to take onscreen exams during the period 1st August 2020 – 28th May 2021 (this does not include any failed attempts prior to these dates). If learners fail the exam after the fourth attempt, the centre will be required to transfer the learner to the relevant Reformed Functional Skills qualification.

Speaking, Listening and Communication (SLC) assessments for legacy Functional Skills English Level 1 and 2 must be completed and submitted to Skillsfirst no later than Friday 28th May 2021.

We strongly recommend that customers submit results to Skillsfirst for those SLC assessments which have already taken place on an ongoing basis, rather than waiting for learners to pass the Reading and Writing components. If you do not have direct claim status, please ensure you contact Skillsfirst to arrange a remote monitoring activity for the SLC component.

As previously advised, we do not plan to offer paper-based assessment opportunities for these qualifications but will continue to accept reasonable adjustment requests on a case-by-case basis.

If learners have not achieved a pass for Functional Skills Maths Level 1 or 2, or all three components of Functional Skills English Level 1 or 2 by Friday 28th May 2021, they will need to be registered on the relevant Reformed Functional Skills qualification.

The final certification date is 28th July 2021.

Please ensure that anyone involved in the delivery of legacy Functional Skills English and Maths is aware of these timescales, including assessors, tutors, invigilators and administrators.

Functional Skills ICT Levels 1 and 2 (FSI01, FSI02)
Final assessment and certification dates 

The final date for onscreen Functional Skills ICT Levels 1 and 2 exams is Friday 3rd December 2021.

Please note, learners have a maximum of four opportunities to take onscreen exams during the period 1st August 2020 – 3rd December 2021 (this does not include any failed attempts prior to these dates).

As previously advised, due to a significant decrease in demand, we no longer offer paper-based assessments for these qualifications but will consider reasonable adjustments on a case-by-case basis.

The final certification date for these qualifications is 15th December 2021. 

Please ensure anyone involved in the delivery of ICT Functional Skills is aware of these timescales, including assessors, tutors, invigilators and administrators.

Functional Skills Update, Teacher Assessed Grades (TAG), 17th March 2021

Skillsfirst has provided an update on the alternative assessment arrangements for Functional Skills qualifications for 2021.

As you may be aware, the second phase of the Ofqual consultation concluded on Thursday 11th March and we anticipate that the results will be published next week. Regular meetings between Ofqual and awarding organisations are continuing to ensure a consistent approach to the Teacher Assessed Grades (TAG) process.

We understand that additional communication from the Department for Education will be issued shortly. We also intend to provide further guidance on our approach to the TAG process in the coming days.

In the meantime, the clear direction from DfE and the Government is that Functional Skills assessments should continue wherever possible, either face-to-face (where it is safe to do so) or via remote arrangements (see below for more detail). Learners will only be eligible for a TAG where evidence can be provided to show that they cannot complete their assessments by one of these methods.

Remote arrangements can refer to the use of remote invigilation, remote assessment, or both:

Remote invigilation
Skillsfirst provides live, remote invigilation of the Functional Skills Maths, English Reading and Writing exams. The invigilator is in a different location to the learner and ensures assessments are completed under the required exam conditions. Email exams@skillsfirst.co.uk for more information.

Remote assessment
A live assessment of a timed task completed in a different location to the learner, such as Speaking, Listening and Communication (SLC). Further information on the remote assessment of SLC assessments can be found here.

Please note that remote assessment and remote invigilation can take place in a location outside of an approved centre (such as at the learner’s home or an employer’s premises).

Functional Skills Update, 10th March 2021

New Reformed Functional Skills practice papers – Improved functionality

Skillsfirst Awards are pleased to confirm that they have released a number of new on-screen practice papers to support learners preparing to take their Functional Skills Mathematics, English Reading and Writing exams at Level 1 & 2.
These practice papers are representative of our live assessment papers and enable learners to familiarise themselves with the testing platform prior to their exam.

In addition, they have introduced new functionality that allows the learner to download their responses so that they can be marked by their tutor/teacher. This will provide a greater understanding of a learner’s readiness for their exam(s) and help identify areas where improvement may be required.

For access to the practice papers and instructions on how to use this new functionality please follow this link.

Maths functionality tool

During a Reformed Functional Skills Maths exam, learners may be asked to complete questions using an on-screen functionality tool, such as a ruler or protractor. They may also be required to create bar and pie charts, draw shapes and use grids.

Skillsfirst are pleased to announce that they have created a tool that enables learners to practice using this functionality prior to their exam.

The maths functionality tool can be accessed via this link.

Functional Skills proctoring

The Skillsfirst remote invigilation (proctoring) solution has enabled more than 1,000 learners to complete their Functional Skills exams.

The offer includes:

  • Level 1 or 2 Maths and English exams invigilated by independent Skillsfirst invigilators
  • Flexible booking times
  • Invigilation fees £25 per exam
  • Results in 6-10 working days
  • PDF versions of certificates

If you are interested in offering this solution to your learners and want to find out more please get in touch via workwithus@skillsfirst.co.uk.

Legacy Functional Skills English and Maths Levels 1 and 2 (FSE01, FSE02, FSM01, FSM02)
Final assessment and certification dates

We would like to take this opportunity to remind customers that the final date for legacy Functional Skills English and Maths Level 1 and 2 onscreen assessments is Friday 28th May 2021.

Please note, learners have a maximum of four opportunities to take on-screen exams during the period 1st August 2020 – 28th May 2021 (this does not include any failed attempts prior to these dates). If learners fail the exam after the fourth attempt, the centre will be required to transfer the learner to the relevant Reformed Functional Skills qualification.

Speaking, Listening and Communication (SLC) assessments for legacy Functional Skills English Level 1 and 2 must be completed and submitted to Skillsfirst no later than Friday 28th May 2021.

We strongly recommend that customers submit results to Skillsfirst for those SLC assessments which have already taken place on an ongoing basis, rather than waiting for learners to pass the Reading and Writing components. If you do not have direct claim status, please ensure you contact Skillsfirst to arrange a remote monitoring activity for the SLC component. As previously advised, we do not plan to offer paper-based assessment opportunities for these qualifications but will continue to accept reasonable adjustment requests on a case-by-case basis.

If learners have not achieved a pass for Functional Skills Maths Level 1 or 2, or all three components of Functional Skills English Level 1 or 2 by Friday 28th May 2021, they will need to be registered on the relevant Reformed Functional Skills qualification.

The final certification date is 28th July 2021.

Please ensure that anyone involved in the delivery of legacy Functional Skills English and Maths is aware of these timescales, including assessors, tutors, invigilators and administrators.

Functional Skills ICT Levels 1 and 2 (FSI01, FSI02)
Final assessment and certification dates

The final date for onscreen Functional Skills ICT Levels 1 and 2 exams is Friday 3rd December 2021.

Please note, learners have a maximum of four opportunities to take on-screen exams during the period 1st August 2020 – 3rd December 2021 (this does not include any failed attempts prior to these dates).

As previously advised, due to a significant decrease in demand, we no longer offer paper-based assessments for these qualifications but will consider reasonable adjustments on a case-by-case basis.

The final certification date for these qualifications is 15th December 2021.

Please ensure anyone involved in the delivery of ICT Functional Skills is aware of these timescales, including assessors, tutors, invigilators and administrators.

Functional Skills and the VCRF

As you will be aware, the first phase of Ofqual’s consultation on alternative arrangements for the award of VTQs in 2021 has recently concluded. As we move into the second phase of the consultation, there are a number of key updates relating to Functional Skills Qualifications (FSQs) that Skillsfirst has asked us to communicate with you.

Firstly, it is important to stress that government policy is that learners should continue to take Functional Skills assessments wherever possible, either face-to-face (where safe to do so) or via remote invigilation/assessment.

Where this is not possible, alternative arrangements will be made available so that learners are able to achieve their Functional Skills qualifications (FSQ). These alternative arrangements (Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs)) will be eligible for any learners due to complete their FSQs between 1st August 2020 and 31st August 2021. The term TAGs will be the same across GQ and VTQ, which Ofqual hope will make it simpler for centres, teachers, parents and learners to understand.

We are currently working with Ofqual and Skillsfirst to establish a common approach to TAGs, and will provide further information as soon as we can. However, we can confirm that there will be a requirement for centres to make an application of eligibility for TAGs on a learner-by-learner basis. In addition, the earliest date for results release will be April 1st 2021, though further detail on timescales will be provided at the conclusion of the consultation.

In the meantime, Skillsfirst will continue to provide remote invigilation for Maths and English FSQs with weekly results releases throughout this period. If you wish to find out more about this solution please email exams@skillsfirst.co.uk

Those Skillsfirst qualifications where adaptations have been applied can continue where applicable.

We also encourage you to respond to the second phase of the consultation, which can be found here.
Results of the first phase of the consultation can be found here.

If you have any queries relating to this update please email Skillsfirst Customer Services.

Functional Skills learners affected by COVID-19

Important: Information required by Skillsfirst. Please respond.

Given the ongoing disruptions from the Covid-19 pandemic, Ofqual and the Department for Education (DfE) want to understand the wider impact on all Functional Skills (FSQs) learners affected by COVID-19 during the current academic year 2020/2021.

According to our records, your centre currently has learners registered with Skillsfirst for one or more FSQ. To enable Skillsfirst to provide Ofqual and the DfE with a clear understanding of the impact and issues you and your learners are facing, we need to establish:
• The total number of learners able to take assessments for each FSQ / level
• The total number of learners unable to take assessments for each FSQ / level
• Characteristics of those learners, including:

  • total number of apprenticeship / private learners
  • the particular sectors affected

• What are the specific issues facing those learners and/or centres?
• What is the impact of the current lockdown on the progress of teaching, learning and completion of internal assessments?

To help us provide accurate information, please complete and return the attached spreadsheet to customerservices@skillsfirst.co.uk by no later than 12 pm Thursday 4th February 2021.

Skillsfirst have advised that not responding could affect your overall centre status with them.

Functional Skills (FSQ) English and Maths online proctor booking form 18th January 2021

Skillsfirst is now offering remote invigilation (proctoring) for their Functional Skills (FSQ) English and Maths exams (legacy and reformed). 

The team have been working hard behind the scenes to make this process as smooth as possible for customers, and their online proctor booking form will be live from today, Monday 18th January 2021. Due to the need for a 10 working day lead time to accept bookings, online proctor bookings will be accepted for exams to be taken from 1st February 2021.

Benefits of the online booking form:

•    Dates and times of available proctor sessions viewable in real-time
•    Make bookings up to three weeks (15 working days) in advance
•    Receive confirmation of the booking via email immediately

Those centres approved to offer Skillsfirst Functional Skills English and Maths qualifications can access the online proctor booking form here. This is a password-protected area, please email exams@skillsfirst.co.uk to request the password. If you are not approved to offer Functional Skills qualifications please contact workwithus@skillsfirst.co.uk for advice and support.

Benefits of the proctoring service:

•    Level 1 or 2 Maths or English exams invigilated by independent Skillsfirst invigilators
•    Flexible booking times
•    Proctoring fee of only £25 per exam booking
•    Results in 6 -10 working days*
•    PDF versions of certificates available (hard copies will be available once the office reopens)
*exceptions apply for some reformed FSQ assessments which are going through the awarding process. 

Skillsfirst has received a great deal of interest in remote invigilation. If you are interested in providing this service to your learners please contact exams@skillsfirst.co.uk.

Extension to Legacy Functional Skills - 22nd October 2020

As you may be aware, The Secretary of State for Education has agreed to further extend the certification end dates for legacy Functional Skills qualifications in Maths and English to 31st July 2021.

To support customers and learners, Skillsfirst Awards will be extending their qualifications in line with this date. Hopefully, this will allow sufficient time for learners to complete outstanding assessments given the ongoing disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic.

For information, the final onscreen testing date for learners completing their legacy Functional Skills exams will be Friday 28th May 2021. Skillsfirst does not plan to offer any paper-based assessment opportunities for these qualifications but will continue to accept reasonable adjustment requests on a case-by-case basis.

Please note, as previously communicated, learners have two attempts to pass their legacy exams onscreen in each subject between 3rd August 2020 – 31st May 2021, this does not include any failed attempts prior to these dates.

The final registration and certification dates for ICT Functional Skills remain unchanged (more information can be found here).

If you have any queries relating to this update please email Skillsfirst Customer Services.