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
  • availability of online assessment for Functional Skills qualifications
  • remote invigilation
  • extension of exam support service for Functional Skills.

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. They can be awarded through a Teacher Assessed Grade 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.


Availability of online assessment for Functional Skills qualifications

Following the latest Government announcements, 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

Remote invigilation has launched and we can’t wait to have you on board! Your learners will be able to sit their Functional Skills assessments anytime, anywhere – supporting the vital achievement and progression they need.

Our remote invigilation solution 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.

Our remote invigilation complements our Functional Skills provision which includes diagnostics tool Skills Builder from Skills Forward as well as the full suite of Functional Skills qualifications in English and maths.

Read more

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.

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.

On 25 February, Ofqual published the outcome of its recent consultation on ‘Alternative arrangements for the award of VTQs and other general qualifications in 2021’. As part of our commitment to keeping you at the forefront of all developments, we provided you with the key information from the consultation as well as NCFE’s response, as we work together to support learner success for 2020-21.


NCFE’s approach to awarding for 2020-21


Anytime, anywhere assessment

Remote invigilation is now live!

Find out more