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Minister Offers Clarification on Functional Skills

In a letter to Ofqual Chief Executive Glenys Stacey, Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock sets out his vision for the future of maths and English GCSEs and offers some much needed clarification on the future of Functional Skills.

The letter, and the subsequent reply from Ms Stacey, relate to the recent Government policy that all students aged 16-19 that do not achieve a good pass in maths and English GCSE should continue to study those qualifications (or other approved qualifications such as Functional Skills) as part of their further education.

The recent clarification concerns the following key points:

  • From this August, learners that did not attain a good pass at GCSE will have to study either Functional Skills or GCSEs as a condition of their funding.
  • From August 2015, these funding rules will be amended so that learners with a grade 'D' at GCSE will continue to study those qualifications, whilst learners with lower grades will be enrolled on stepping stone qualifications, such as Functional Skills.
  • Apprentices and Trainees will continue to study Functional Skills until at least 2020.


Commenting on the news, IQ Chief Executive Raymond Clarke said, "We are delighted by this clarification from Matthew Hancock. Considerable effort has been expended by the sector in the development and implementation of Functional Skills and the empirical evidence is that they are having a beneficial impact.

In an environment where vocational education seems to be in a state of continual revolution and change, the need for which is rarely evidence based and the resulting policy often fundamentally flawed, a commitment to at least 2020 is to be welcomed".

A more in depth look at Functional Skills is expected later this year when Ofqual publish the results of their formal review into the qualifications.

You can access a copy of both the original letter and Ms. Stacey's reply by visiting the Ofqual website. (

Jul 28, 2014 03:46 PM