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Implementing functional skills reform

DfE want your views on the proposals, draft rules and guidance they are proposing for functional skills qualifications in English and mathematics.

This consultation closes at 

Functional skills qualifications (FSQs) in English and mathematics are being reformed and will be introduced for first teaching in September 2019.

In September 2017 DfE consulted on their approach to regulating new FSQs in English and mathematics and have now confirmed their approach.

In their initial consultation, DfE set out the purposes of the reformed functional skills qualifications and confirmed that through their regulatory approach are looking to increase the comparability between qualifications offered by different awarding organisations and over time, and to ensure there is greater control of standards.

This consultation builds on the decisions they have made and seeks views on the detailed conditions, requirements and guidance they want to put in place for new functional skills qualifications in English and mathematics.


Email to: [email protected]

Or write to:

Implementing Functional Skills reform 
Spring Place 
Herald Avenue 

Reforming functional skills qualifications in English and Maths

This consultation ran from  to was about DfE’s approach to regulating reformed functional skills qualifications in English and maths.
These new qualifications will be taught in schools in England from September 2019.

Download the full outcome

Decisions on Functional Skills Qualification reform – English and mathematics

Reforming Functional Skills: Regulatory impact assessment

Detail of outcome

DfE have made the following decisions:

  1. All new functional skills qualifications (FSQ) must follow the subject content published by the Department for Education.
  2. DfE will specify both minimum and maximum overall assessment times.
  3. DfE will set rules on the number of assessments in new FSQs in English and mathematics.
  4. At Levels 1 and 2 all assessments in mathematics, and the reading and writing assessments in English must be set and marked by awarding organisations.
  5. At the entry levels all assessments in mathematics, and the reading and writing assessments in English:
    • must be set by awarding organisations
    • may be contextualised by centres
    • may be marked either by the awarding organisation, or by the centre, or through a combination of the two
  6. For speaking, listening and communicating at all levels, the assessments may be set and marked by the awarding organisation or by the centre, or through a combination of the two; but where a centre sets any assessment, the awarding organisation must have specified parameters for the assessment that ensure the assessment is fit for purpose and meets all the requirements specified.
  7. DfE will not put in place any restrictions on assessment availability.
  8. All new FSQs must use a Pass or Fail grading model.
  9. Learners must continue to pass all three content areas (reading, writing, and speaking, listening and communicating) to achieve an overall ‘Pass’ in the qualification.
  10. DfE will set weighting ranges for spelling, punctuation and grammar within the writing component.
  11. There will be no access to spelling and grammar checks in the writing component.
  12. DfE will set level-based common criteria for assessing speaking, listening and communicating.
  13. DfE will require awarding organisations to provide centres with guidance around the conduct and assessment of speaking, listening and communicating.
  14. DfE will set detailed monitoring requirements around the speaking, listening and communicating component.
  15. At the entry levels DfE shall set rules and guidance around the assessment of the reading and spelling of words and types of words as set out in the subject content.
  16. DfE will introduce weightings for calculator-based and non-calculator based assessment.
  17. DfE will introduce weightings for the assessment of underpinning skills and problem solving.
  18. The weightings DfE set will place a greater emphasis on problem solving in assessments than on underpinning skills.
  19. DfE will set rules (but not weightings) around the coverage of subject content.
  20. DfE will require decisions on setting specified levels of attainment in new functional skills qualifications to be based on an appropriate range of qualitative and quantitative evidence.
  21. DfE will ensure initial standards are set appropriately for the first award.
  22. DfE will put in place enhanced scrutiny of qualification outcomes over time.
  23. All awarding organisations will produce an assessment strategy document that explains their overall approach to assessment for new FSQs.
  24. DfE will set rules around what assessment strategies must include.
  25. There should be a transition period between the current and new FSQs which should take place as soon as reasonably practicable, but in a way that ensures, as far as possible, that learners are not disadvantaged by the arrangements.
  26. There should be a maximum 12 month overlap period between the current and new FSQs.

Feedback received

Analysis of responses to our consultation on Functional Skills Qualification reform – English and mathematics

Detail of feedback received

There were 100 responses to the consultation. Of these responses 98 were in a form that matched or broadly followed the layout of the online consultation. Two responses were written submissions which were not included in the quantitative data analysis, but were considered within the qualitative sections. 60% of the responses were from individuals, mostly from teachers, while 40% were from organisations.

Original consultation Documents

Consultation on Functional Skills Qualification Reform – English and Mathematics

Letter to Sally Collier, Chief Regulator, from Anne Milton, Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills and Minister for Women

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