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Functional Skills Exams and COVID-19

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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

 

 

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.

Functional Skills Update 11th September

New Exam Platform for Legacy Functional Skills English, Maths and ICT Levels 1 and 2

Skillsfirst are no longer using the SecureAssess or SecureClient platforms for the scheduling or taking of Functional Skills exams.

All Functional Skills exams (legacy and reformed) should now be scheduled and taken within the XAMS platform.

For those centres already using XAMS for Reformed Functional Skills exams, your current logins allow you to schedule legacy Functional Skills and ICT automatically.

Those centres who have not yet used XAMS will need to submit user requests for centre staff. Please complete and return this form to the email address on the form.

Once your account has been created, you will receive an email confirming your login details. This email will also include a link to our website where you will find our XAMS user guide, as well as all of the information you will require to download and install the exam platform.

Withdrawal of Legacy Functional Skills English and Maths Levels 1 and 2
(FSE01, FSE02, FSM01, FSM02)

As you are aware the final certification date for legacy Functional Skills Maths and English qualifications at Level 1 and Level 2 is 31st December 2020.

On-screen assessments (exams) for the legacy Functional Skills English and Maths Levels 1 and 2 qualifications are available to learners until 31st October 2020. Please ensure when planning learners’ assessments, that you allow time for learners to take a re-sit by 31st October 2020 if required. No further paper-based assessments are available.

Learners have a maximum of two opportunities to take on-screen assessments during the period of 3rd August – 31st October 2020. If learners fail the assessment after the second attempt, the centre will be required to register the learner on the relevant Reformed Functional Skills qualification.

In addition, all Speaking, Listening and Communication (SLC) assessments for legacy Functional Skills English Level 1 and 2 qualifications, must have been completed and pass results submitted to Skillsfirst no later than 31st October 2020.

Failure to meet these timescales will result in learners having to be registered on the relevant Reformed Functional Skills qualification.

Functional Skills ICT Levels 1 and 2 Invigilation Guidance

Please find attached the new Functional Skills ICT invigilation guidance. This is in addition to Skillsfirst’s Instructions for Conducting Controlled Assessments.

Please ensure this is shared with all Functional Skills Level 1 and 2 ICT invigilators. To avoid learners being disadvantaged during their assessment, it is imperative that all invigilators are aware of the changes prior to invigilating these exams.

Withdrawal of Learners

It is important that learner data is accurate and up-to-date within Skillsfirst’s registration system (REG) for Functional Skills ICT and legacy Functional Skills English and Maths Levels 1 and 2. Please inform Skillsfirst as a matter of urgency of all learners who are no longer on programme and therefore need to be withdrawn.

If you have any other queries relating to this update please email exams@skillsfirst.co.uk

Changes effective from Monday 3rd August 2020

This update includes important information relating to all Skillsfirst Awards Functional Skills qualifications, with changes effective from Monday 3rd August 2020. 

Functional Skills assessments go-live following the CAG process

We are pleased to confirm that you will be able to schedule Functional Skills exams from Monday 3rd August 2020.

As a centre, it is your responsibility to ensure staff and learners comply with social distancing measures in the examination room.

New exam platform for legacy Functional Skills English, Maths and ICT Levels 1 and 2

Skillsfirst will no longer be using the SecureAssess or SecureClient platforms for the scheduling or taking of legacy Functional Skills exams.

Effective from Monday 3rd August 2020, all Functional Skills exams will be scheduled and taken within the XAMS platform. This now includes legacy Functional Skills English and Maths as well as ICT Levels 1 and 2.

For those centres already using XAMS for Reformed Functional Skills exams, your current logins will allow you to schedule legacy Functional Skills and ICT automatically. 

Those centres who have not yet used XAMS will need to submit user requests for centre staff. Please complete and return the attached form to the email address on the form.

Once your account has been created, you will receive an email confirming your login details. This email will also include a link to our website where you will find our XAMS user guide, as well as all the information you will require to set up the exam platform.

Legacy Functional Skills English and Maths Levels 1 and 2 (FSE01, FSE02, FSM01, FSM02) withdrawal plan

You will be aware the certification end dates for the above qualifications have been extended until 31st December 2020.

On-screen assessments (exams) for the legacy Functional Skills English and Maths Levels 1 and 2 qualifications will be available to learners from 3rd August – 31st October 2020.

Learners will have a maximum of two opportunities to take on-screen assessments during this period. If learners fail the assessment after the second attempt, the centre will be required to transfer the learner to the relevant Reformed Functional Skills qualification.

In addition, all Speaking, Listening and Communication (SLC) assessments for legacy Functional Skills English Level 1 and 2 qualifications must have been completed and submitted to Skillsfirst no later than 31st October 2020.

Failure to meet these timescales will result in learners having to be registered on the relevant Reformed Functional Skills qualification.

Accessing learners’ results in SecureAssess

Centres will have access to review all legacy Functional Skills English, Maths and ICT Levels 1 and 2 results up to Friday 28th August 2020, after which time this system will no longer be available. Please ensure you have checked all results by this deadline.

Functional Skills ICT Levels 1 and 2

For those centres offering Functional Skills ICT Levels 1 and 2, further information will be sent to you shortly regarding the specific changes relating to these exams.

Remote invigilation

Skillsfirst plans to offer the opportunity for centres to carry out remote invigilation of Functional Skills exams very soon.

To ensure the system is robust and the security of exams are not at risk, they are currently carrying out testing of the proctoring and XAMS systems and will be providing further information relating to this, including any related costs, very soon.

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