Reformed Functional Skills
We are no longer offering reformed Functional Skills qualifications.
Legacy Functional Skills English, Maths and ICT
The consultation decisions indicate that assessments for qualifications, such as Functional Skills, should continue as planned in centres, if it is safe to do so.
If you’ve exhausted all the options for taking a test, a teacher assessment route will be available.
Where assessments were planned to be delivered in the workplace but have been unable to go ahead due to ongoing disruptions, apprenticeship training providers can now access support for Functional Skills qualifications from the DfE's Exam Support Service. This service allows you to book sites and invigilators for assessments and claim eligible costs. You can view further information on the DfE website.
You may also find it helpful to view the DfE's latest guidance on awarding Functional Skills in 2021 (last updated 8 March).
Where assessments are taking place
The last certification date for legacy Functional Skills English and maths (Level 1 and 2) is 21 May 2021.
We'd therefore like to remind you that 26 March 2021 is the last date on which you can make an entry to order question papers for a student sitting a paper-based test. Your students will not be able to sit paper-based assessments if they've not been entered by 26 March 2021.
For on-screen tests, you must register the students in Surpass by 26 March 2021. You will then be able to schedule on-screen tests to be taken up to and including 23 April 2021.
You can view all the assessment arrangements for legacy Functional Skills in our subject information update.
The 'last dates' above do not apply to Functional Skills ICT as this remains available.
Teacher assessed grades (TAGs)
We have created a guidance document and descriptions of ‘Pass’ thresholds for Level 1 and Level 2 which explain how you can judge if your students are eligible for a teacher assessed grade and the process you should use to make your judgements.
To request a teacher assessed grade for Functional Skills, please complete the Request for Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs) form and send to VTQ@ocr.org.uk. We have also put together guidance on the process for exams officers and an eligibility flow chart for all awarding bodies (see below).
You do not need to submit a JCQ Centre Policy for Functional Skills. The Request for Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs) form includes the information we need for Functional Skills.
You will then have until 21 May 2021 to submit your teacher assessed grades for English and maths and until 31 August 2021 for ICT.
Results will then be issued on-demand. If your centre is not selected for sampling and we do not need to request further details from you, the results for TAGs can be processed within 15 days. If we have to contact you for further information or to sample learner work, then the turnaround time will be impacted.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can a student who has finished their course get a teacher assessed grade (TAG)?
In the event that a learner who has completed their course and did not take the assessment due to disruption, could be considered for a TAG application provided the centre can demonstrate:
- the learner’s end date is in the past
- the centre were confident they were ready to take and pass the assessment
- the centre has supporting evidence to demonstrate the learner was assessment ready
- the centre can demonstrate it was not safe to take the assessment and it is still not safe to invite the learner back to take a test now
- The centre has explored all possible options to take the live assessment including considering the following:
- Change of venue – assessments for functional skills can take place at any venue as long as the appropriate regulations can be followed.
- DfE’s support fund for apprenticeships
- Delay assessment i.e. reschedule to take place on or before 23 April 2021 for English & maths/at a later date for ICT
Evidence of all these points must be retained within the centre as the awarding organisation may need sight of this before being able to approve a TAG.
We have a large cohort of learners who need to complete Functional Skills assessments. Can we submit the whole cohort for TAGs?
No. DfE's position is that centres must make every effort to assess learners. Adaptations must be utilised as required to enable live assessment to take place. If you require any different approach, please contact us to discuss your individual needs. Additionally, where accommodation is challenging, DfE provides funding to centres to access alternative venues to ensure live assessment can take place. All attempts to access live testing must be followed and evidence retained within the centre. TAGs must only be put forward for individual learners in exceptional cases.
We have learners who suffer anxiety and do not feel safe taking an assessment. Can we put them forward for a TAG?
DfE’s position would be that learners must be entered for a live assessment, using adaptations if required. If anxiety impacts on the live assessment then a special consideration request could be submitted to the awarding organisation once the live assessment was complete.
Why can we have a TAG for GCSEs and A Levels, but not Functional Skills?
Functional Skills qualifications are on-demand assessments and have less guided learning hours, which are usually taken over a shorter period compared to a GCSE or A Level. The DfE has taken the view that as these qualifications are smaller and the impact and disruption experienced is likely to be less. As they are on-demand qualifications, it is possible for live testing to be delayed or to continue at a later date. This is not possible for GCSEs or A Levels.
Can we have a TAG instead of taking a live assessment?
Live assessment must always be the first option. A TAG would only be possible where the centre can evidence that learners are not able to access a live assessment safely and they have explored all options for live testing.
I don’t have a completed past paper for my student for the TAG. What should I do?
You must have a body of evidence that can be used to form the basis of the TAG judgement. We recommend the use of past/sample papers, but if you do not have this evidence, then you can use:
- Formative assessment evidence
- Any other learner work towards the qualification (i.e. work they have independently undertaken in class or at home)
- Learner work demonstrating the skills assessed by FS qualifications that has been completed in support of another qualification learning aim.
Please make sure the evidence is accompanied with a commentary that demonstrates how the evidence aligns with the TAG.
Can my students sit a live assessment for Functional Skills?
Yes, live assessments for Functional Skills can continue in centres and should be conducted in line with PHE measures.
Will legacy Functional Skills maths & English be extended further?
No, Legacy Functional Skills maths & English entry level has been withdrawn. The last date for entries for Level 1 and Level 2 maths & English was 26 March 2021 and the final date to sit a paper-based and on-screen test is 23 April 2021.
My learner is self-isolating for ten days. Can they have a TAG?
Self-isolation is not a sufficient reason on its own for learners to be eligible for a TAG.
You need to demonstrate that the normal assessment arrangements are not safe and that your learner cannot:
- access an assessment in person
- access an assessment using adaptations
- delay the assessment to a later date
You must consider when your learner needs a result for their Functional Skills qualification. Will there be an opportunity for them to take a live assessment in a safe way before they need the result. You will need to clearly justify why your learner is eligible for a TAG and be able to give evidence of what options for live testing you have investigated and ruled out.
Do we need to include details of candidates where evidence has determined they would not pass?
While we only require TAG requests for a pass, you should record any decisions where you decide the learner is not eligible for a TAG, as they can access live assessments or where a learner is not performing at a Pass standard. This ensures you have evidence in the event the candidate wants to appeal the decision.
Where you have deemed a learner not eligible for a TAG, it is important you have confirmed that any reasonable adjustments which are usually agreed for the candidate and/or access arrangements have been in place and considered in respect of evidence you have used in making your decision.