Functional Skills delivery support | NCFE

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Functional Skills delivery support

Results from 6 working days and so much more with NCFE's Functional Skills offer.

Below you will find links to the qualification information pages that have all the qualification-specific support materials for each subject/level.

These materials include the latest sample papers, teaching resources, schemes of work and assessment information, as well as links to the key pieces of information you need to deliver the qualifications.

Online assessments are available for on-demand bookings and can be booked through the online assessment system.

We also offer a remote invigilation solution for online assessment that allows the learner to sit their online assessment without the need for centre invigilation. Learn more about remote invigilation.

Our paper-based assessments are also available on demand and can be booked through the online portal system.

All external assessments must be conducted in line with our Regulations for the Conduct of External Assessment. Learn more assessment regulations

Information on post-results services and feedback is available in the Assessment delivery section. 

Changes to Speaking, Listening and Communicating (SLC) Assessments September 2023

From 4 September 2023, Speaking, Listening and Communicating tasks can be devised and managed by centres, in line with new information and guidance in new centre guidance documents.

There are now two centre guidance documents available in the qualification pages, one for entry level and the other for levels 1 and 2. These documents provide assessor guidance to support the delivery of the Speaking, Listening and Communicating assessments.

Bookings on the Portal are no longer available for Speaking, Listening and Communicating assessments at entry level or levels 1 and 2. Exemplar tasks are available within the Guidance for Assessors documents, should centres wish to use them. All tasks used must be supplied at EQA review.

Updated Assessment Tracking Document (ATD)

Centres must continue to use the Assessment Tracking Document (ATD). This has been updated to version 1.3 and includes a new column in the SLC tab to identify the assessments that have been recorded. Where centres use their own version of the ATD, this will need to be updated in line with version 1.3 with the new column in the SLC tab.

It is essential that your fully completed (ATD) is uploaded to the OneDrive link 2 weeks before an EQA review so that completed learners can be selected for sampling.


Is it still a requirement to record an assessment?

Yes – there is a requirement for one recording per assessor, per level, per academic session (year).


Will there be a new standardisation video produced?

Yes, this will be available soon.

Are you sharing the updated PowerPoint so that we can do development internally with staff?

Yes, this will be shared directly with centres.


Could you clarify the minimum and maximum number allowed in a group?

A group must consist of at least three and no more than five learners. This includes the audience and the presenter at Level 2.

Can you have a mixed group of Level 1 and Level 2 learners taking part in one assessment?

Yes, you can have a mixed group of learners as long as no learner is disadvantaged. Where
possible, learners should be assessed in groups of the same level.


Has the requirement for a learner to speak for a certain number of minutes been removed?

The timings are per task, rather than per learner. For example, with a discussion, if learners meet the subject statements and contribute meaningfully, there is no need to time each learner.

Is there is a specific amount of time we need to give for preparing for the assessment?

Preparation time will depend on the group / learner. Learners should be given opportunities to practice the skills prior to assessment. Learners should be given enough time to prepare for assessment, in fitting with the requirements of the task. At Level 2, for example, learners may want to carry out research 2 weeks prior to assessment. All learners must be made fully aware
of the requirements of assessment before it is scheduled to take place.

How much flexibility is there around time, for example, if a learner goes under or over?

Timings are an approximation only; there is a tolerance of a minute or two either way, depending on the size of the group and at the assessor’s discretion.

Will there be more exemplars or are we expected to create our own?

Centres will devise their own tasks based on NCFE guidance or alternatively, can use exemplars provided.

Can we use the same subjects repeatedly as long as learners haven't done that topic before?

This is a possibility, but topics for discussion should be current and relevant; many topics date quickly.

Tracking and documentation

Do centres still need to complete a form and obtain pre-approval for tasks they have devised for the Level 1 and Level 2?

It will no longer be necessary to complete a contextualisation request form for the SLC.

How do we notify NCFE that we have chosen our own subject without using the
contextualisation form?

There is no longer a need to notify NCFE about chosen topics.

Can we continue to use our approved contextualised assessments following the cut-off date?

Centres can continue to use all assessments booked via the Portal until 6 weeks after the cut-off date for bookings, which is 29 September 2023.

Is the tracking document changing at all?

There is a new tracking document, yes.

What do the changes to SLC mean for learners that have completed reading and writing components in 22-23 but will go on to complete SLC in 23-24 post September?

It means that centres will follow the new SLC guidance and devise their own tasks, using the new paperwork. The English assessments are separate components, so learners who have already completed reading and writing prior to September 2023 will be able to complete their SLC and then achieve their certificate.

Has the requirement to get learner comments been removed?

There is no longer a requirement to capture learner comments on the Learner Observation and Assessment Record Form (LOAR). Learners will still need to sign the LOAR to confirm they have received and understood the feedback they have been given.

If an assessor has not completed the LOAR correctly or in enough detail, would it impact the learner?

Centres must ensure that assessors are fully standardised and familiar with the documentation requirements for the level(s) they are assessing. EQA feedback to the assessor would not impact the learner.


Will the topics need to be verified by EQA before they can be used?

Centres can devise and internally verify their own tasks, but they must comply with the information and guidance provided by NCFE.

How does a 'short talk' (Level 1) differ from a 'presentation' (Level 2)?

The short talk at Level 1 is a step towards the more formal presentation assessed at Level 2. Learners should be taught how to structure a talk with a clear aim.

If a learner has been given a topic (say a week prior to the assessment) for prep time, and then that session is cancelled, can they sit that subject the next month or do they need to be given (and prep for) a new subject?

The learner would not need to choose a new topic.

At Level 2, do all the presentations have to be on the same subject, or can learners choose their own individual topic to present?

If learners choose their own topic, the assessor must ensure it is fit for purpose; the presentation should demonstrate the learner’s ability to adapt verbal contributions to suit audience, purpose and medium.

Will there still be generic topics that we can select, or do we need to devise our own based on learner interests?

Yes, generic topics are available in the exemplars in the guidance document. However, assessors can devise their own in line with the guidance.

Do we need to give learners a choice of presentation topics? Currently they have a choice of 5.

There is no need to give learners a choice of topics. Assessors might set an overarching topic (for example, a topic relevant to the vocational area) which each learner can personalise, or learners can choose their own topic.


Can existing learners who have attempted and failed the existing SLC, still attempt the new SLC when it becomes live?

Yes, they can.

Can learners that are signed up before September complete the new SLC?

Yes, they can.

When do we have to start doing these?

There will be a cross over period, but it is expected that the end of September will be the last date for bookings on the old SLC, with a further 6 weeks’ allowance after that date to enable centres to finalise any remaining assessments in the previous format.

Will Level 1 and Level 2 assessment dates need to be declared in advance as previously?

There is no need to declare assessment dates in advance with NCFE; however, this may be an internal requirement.

What happens if we devise a topic/question that the EQA later deems not to be at the right level? Will learner have to redo or not be awarded the pass for SLC?

Centres must ensure that assessors are fully standardised and familiar with the requirements for the level(s) they are assessing. EQA assessor feedback would not impact the learner.

Entry level

To confirm for Entry 1 – if they do not meet the needs of all aspects in Task 1 or Task 2 – do they need to retake the whole of the task again or just the aspect that has not been achieved?

They do not need to retake the whole task – just the part they need to.

New practice papers for Functional Skills English

Launching June 2024, we are delighted to share new practice papers with our Functionals Skills English providers. New paper-based practice assessments will be available across all levels in Reading and Writing, supporting learners to prepare for their Functional Skills English assessment. Onscreen practice papers are available at Levels 1 and 2, allowing learners to prepare for their assessment using our onscreen platform, Surpass.

Each practice paper has its own specific mark scheme to support with accurate and detailed feedback. Paper-based and onscreen assessments can be used for mock assessments, as diagnostic tools, and to prepare learners for their final assessments. Each paper has been carefully chosen by our assessment team to provide an authentic assessment experience.

Coming soon to Functional Skills Entry Level maths assessments.

As we’re committed to helping learners achieve in Functional Skills, we’re introducing new vocabulary lists with our Entry Level Maths assessments. Our customers and learners have given feedback asking for more support with the contexts of our assessments, so we listened and invested in a solution.

Our centres will be able to download the vocabulary lists upon booking the assessment and use it to help learners understand the contexts prior to sitting the assessment. We’re also busy updating our assessor guidance document to see what other ways we can give more support to learners during their assessment.

Coming September 1 2024.

Changes to the bookings process for Entry level ICT have been made in line with the bookings of functional skills controlled assessments.

From 21 February 2022, controlled assessments for Entry level ICT will be available directly from the NCFE Portal, making it easier and more secure to access the assessments required. To access assessment material, book registered learners for their ICT assessment and topic within 6 weeks of their planned assessment date. For further details on how to make or cancel a booking, please refer to the Portal User Guide.

Functional Skills qualifications
Key dates information
Due to the changes in Functional Skills qualifications and associated processes, we need to make you aware of important information.
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Request for contextualisation of Functional Skills controlled assessments
This form is for centres to request validation of contextualised Functional Skills exam papers to a given activity.
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Learner Toolkit
Resources designed to support learners with Functional Skills maths and English assessments.
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