Why functional skills are essential

What are functional skills?

Functional skills are an alternative way for those learners who did not gain their GSCE to obtain the UK standards for English, maths and ICT. The UK Government developed functional skills as part of an initiative to improve the country’s literacy and mathematics standards.

Why are functional skills vital to you?

There are a few reasons why functional skills will be vital for you, and it is not just because they are a requirement for your course.

  1. When applying for most jobs, the employer will ask for a “C” or equivalent in English or maths.
  2. Having functional skills may also be important in the latter part of your career; people who do not have GCSEs/ functional skills may find it difficult to move to a different role.
  3. Confidence. The learners we work with come into these sessions with low confidence levels from school. It does not take long before they are feeling pleased with their progression.

What do you need to do to complete functional skills?

The answer depends on you; every learner may be different, and functional skills are designed to fit your needs. If you have already obtained a GCSE or equivalent, you may only need to do part of the functional skills requirement.

If you are required to attain the English qualification, you will need to complete a reading exam, a writing exam and a speaking and listening assessment. Maths and ICT have one exam each.

What are the first steps to completing the functional skills?

You will complete an initial assessment for English and maths. The results of this assessment help us to identify your strengths and weaknesses and design a functional skills session which suits your needs. It also gives us a starting point. If we don’t know where you are at present, we won’t see what you need to learn. During your next steps, your functional skills tutor will contact you to arrange sessions.

How long will functional skills training take?

The timings may differ from one learner to another. However, your functional skills tutor will be able to give you a clearer picture once you have completed a session with them.

Mike Garrett from A&M Swindon has shared his experience of learning functional skills with us:

“To be honest, I hated maths and my English was not up to scratch, though I was more confident with English. I had no confidence in maths whatsoever. During my school days, we were never taught things like this. I have learned more in this course than I did at school. At school I felt that things were not explained in a way that I could understand, and there was no attempt to explain it in a way that was right for me. Don’t get me wrong, there were still things in the functional skills sessions that I did not get straight away, but they were explained in different ways until we found a way that works for me.
Now that I have completed and passed my functional skills, I am even more confident with English and my maths, to the point where I have the confidence to support my young nephew. There was no chance I would have put myself forward for this before these sessions.

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