Ground-breaking changes to teaching and learning in the 14+ sector have seen the introduction of Functional Skills. But what does this mean for CPD in our schools and colleges? This ebulletin considers what you need to know as you begin to implement Functional Skills in your school.pdf-3382697

CPD Week Info Sheet – Functional Skills.pdf

All of the top achievers I know are life-long learners… looking for new skills, insights, and ideas. If they’re not learning, they’re not growing… not moving toward excellence.
Denis Waitley

We are in the middle of a three-year pilot of the QCA’s Functional Skills standards and qualifications, for learners aged 14 and older. This extra emphasis on core elements of mathematics, English and ICT will undoubtedly have an impact on the teaching and learning that takes place in the 14+ sector. While many educators working in that sector have not yet been directly affected, they are bound to be a focus of CPD in the near future.

Arguably, Functional Skills will have an impact on the primary sector too. It seems a logical step to find ways of taking the principles of applied learning down through the stages of education, once they are firmly adopted in the 14+ sector.

So what should we know when starting to consider CPD for Functional Skills? These ideas will provide discussion points within your setting, to get you started.

  • Teaching approaches for functional skills are bound to present challenges and require changes. Although these changes may be subtle, they can be unsettling, and open dialogues between staff members at all levels of your school’s hierarchy will help to ensure that learning is maximized and anxiety minimized.
  • Focus on ways of helping staff to assist children in making meaning from their learning of Functional Skills, within their programmes of study. Make the learning contextual and purposeful.
  • All members of staff need to understand the importance of Functional Skills. Anyone taking a diploma at foundation level (equivalent to level 1) needs to achieve all three Functional Skills at level 1, and anyone doing the higher or advanced diplomas needs to achieve the Functional Skills at level 2. Without that achievement they can’t pass the diploma in its entirety.
  • Your local authority will offer training on Functional Skills. See what you can tap into. It is likely that the training will have originated from the Secondary National Strategy, which has been charged (with the Learning and Skills Improvement Service) to run the Functional Skills Support Programme 2008-09.
  • There are many points of contact between teaching and learning for Functional Skills and other teaching and learning that already goes on in your school. Exploring these points of contact will help to ensure that Functional Skills aren’t viewed as ‘yet another initiative’!
  • Functional Skills are all about application. Make sure that any CPD reflects this and offers staff the chance to do.
  • They are also about independence in thinking and learning, which needs to be at the heart of CPD for Functional Skills.
  • While there are clear distinctions between different subject disciplines, the presence of Functional Skills across the curriculum should ideally be seamless. This is why all members of staff will need development, to achieve successful implementation of Functional Skills in your school.

Find out more

This e-bulletin issue was first published in January 2009

About the author: Elizabeth Holmes