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Update on our Functional Skills offer

This web page sets out our latest advice on:

  • NCFE’s approach to awarding for 2020-21 – see the document linked on the right
  • Teacher Assessed Grade (TAG) approach for Functional Skills – information linked on the right and below
  • availability of online assessment for Functional Skills qualifications
  • remote invigilation
  • legacy and reformed Functional Skills paper based assessments
  • paper modifications for paper-based Functional Skills
  • entry level and SLC Controlled Assessments
  • extension of exam support service for Functional Skills.
  • Functional Skills requirements for Level 2 apprentices
  • flexibility permitting EPA prior to FSQ achievement.

Approach to awarding for 2020-21

Qualifications that are not like GCSE or A Levels in their structure, such as Functional Skills, will continue remotely as the primary option. They can be awarded through a Teacher Assessed Grade (TAG) only where assessments cannot take place on public health grounds or remotely. You can read more in our approach to awarding document. You can also read about our remote invigilation solution which allows your learners to complete assessments remotely, anytime, anywhere here.


Teacher Assessed Grade (TAG) approach for Functional Skills

Functional Skills qualifications are only eligible to be awarded through Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs) this year as a last resort. As a centre, you must first be able to clearly demonstrate that it is not possible to live test individual learners (either remotely or face to face) for safety reasons.

In order for your application to be accepted, you will be required to submit robust evidence as outlined here and it’s really important that these applications are made on a learner-by-learner basis and not for full cohorts.

Read more


Availability of online assessment for Functional Skills qualifications

Our online assessment for Level 1 & 2 Functional Skills Qualifications (FSQ) (both legacy and reform) remains open for those centres that can complete the assessments safely, as per Government guidelines and in line with our Regulations for the Conduct of External Assessment.

We have already put in place an invigilation exception request for Functional Skills to provide additional support to you.

Remote invigilation

Your learners can sit their Functional Skills assessments anytime, anywhere with our remote invigilation solution – supporting the vital achievement and progression they need.

This has been rigorously trialled and tested by organisations like yours, meaning that we’re fully equipped and prepared to support you with the challenges you’re experiencing due to the ongoing restrictions of in-person assessments.

Read more


Legacy Functional Skills paper based assessments

We can confirm that centres with existing registrations on the below Functional Skills legacy qualifications can start to make bookings for external assessment components:

Paper based external assessments must be delivered in line with our Regulations for the Conduct of External Assessment.

Please note that the last date for booking legacy paper-based assessments for English and maths was 18 June 2021, with the last assessment date being 30 June 2021 ahead of the qualification certification cut-off date of 31 July 2021. To help support learners in their final preparation for their English and maths legacy assessments our Provider Development Team have created revision recordings with resources for your learners here.


Reform Functional Skills paper based assessments

Centres are also now able to book paper-based assessments for reformed Functional Skills qualifications.

These assessments are available on-demand (removing the requirement to sit within an assessment window) and we also offer the results from 6 working days of receiving the assessment papers back from the centre.


Paper modifications for paper based Functional Skills

Where you previously submitted a paper modification (such as an enlarged paper request) for an assessment which was subsequently cancelled, and either have or shortly will make a new booking for your learner, you must resubmit a new paper modification request via QualHub at your earliest opportunity. Our normal timescales will apply, however will fast-track new requests as best as we are able if they are outside of these, with priority given to those with previous bookings and paper modification requests for now cancelled assessments.


Entry Level and SLC Controlled Assessments

Entry level and SLC assessments can continue for both legacy and reform Functional Skills. This should be where they can take place where centres judge it is safe and appropriate to do so, and where they can ensure they still adhere to the required controlled assessment conditions. Both legacy and reform SLC assessments are able to be assessed remotely using an appropriate video conferencing tool in an environment that meets the controlled assessment conditions.


Extension of exam support service for Functional Skills

We're pleased to confirm that the DfE Exam Support Service has been extended to include FSQs in apprenticeships, where assessments were planned to be delivered in the workplace. We recognise that many providers have experienced issues relating to accessibility, venues and invigilators and we hope that this will help. You can read more information on the government website here.


Update to Functional Skills funding guidance

The ESFA has now updated its guidance relating to the Level 2 Apprenticeships rule for Functional Skills. You can read the details of this rule change here.


Flexibility permitting EPA prior to FSQ achievement

A new temporary flexibility has been introduced to allow apprentices at all levels that are ready and waiting to take their FSQ assessments in English and maths, to go through to take their end-point assessment (EPA), and later return to complete FSQ assessment.

This flexibility is only available to apprentices where all possibilities to access FSQ assessment via face-to-face and remote assessment have been exhausted, and they have confirmed their intent to continue and complete their FSQ within three months of starting their EPA. Confirmation of this must also be evidenced in the learner file/evidence pack. Apprentices who are waiting to take their FSQ assessment now have the opportunity to pass through gateway and take their EPA without any further delay.

To be eligible to take their EPA before achieving the required functional skills qualifications, the apprentice must:

  • not be on a break in learning (an apprentice may return from a break in learning to take their end-point assessment)
  • meet all other gateway criteria to progress to their EPA as specified in the apprenticeship standard (except meeting the English and maths requirements)
  • have been confirmed by you and their employer as ready for both their EPA, and to take a functional skills qualification assessment
  • start their EPA on or before 31 May 2021.

Teacher Assessed Grade (TAG) approach for Functional Skills

Read more

NCFE’s approach to awarding for 2020-21

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Anytime, anywhere assessment

Remote invigilation is now live!

Find out more

Catch up on our webinar: Approach to awarding for Functional Skills