Foundation Welcomes Plans to Reform English and Maths Functional Skills

The Education and Training Foundation (ETF) today warmly welcomed the Skills Minister’s decision to commission a programme to reform English and maths Functional Skills Qualifications

The ETF’s review ‘Making maths and English work for all’ found that Functional Skills were “not broken”, but that work could be done to improve their relevance and content, as well as to improve their recognition and credibility in the labour market.

“We’re delighted to be asked to lead this work through its next phase, having been closely involved since its beginning. With a million Functional Skills certificates issued each year, these qualifications must equip learners with the maths and English they need in a way that employers understand and trust.”

David Russell, Foundation Chief Executive

Functional Skills are taught in a wide variety of settings. The reform programme will work closely with our partners, and include extensive consultation and engagement with teachers and trainers, providers, employers and awarding bodies. Ofqual will be closely involved throughout. The reform programme will produce a report for Ministers in August 2016. The intention is for new qualifications to be available in 2018.

“Functional Skills are delivering an employer-recognised level of English and maths skills that help learners into lasting work and to play an active role in society.

But learners and employers must have faith in them, which is why the ETF will be delivering a reform programme to provide more rigorous and respected qualifications.”

Nick Boles, Skills Minister

The Foundation will issue two Invitations To Tender to support this work shortly. Read the BIS Q & As (PDF – 129KB) and our Summary of Functional Skills Reform Programme (PDF – 558KB).

Parties interested in being involved in the process should register for the Foundation’s e-newsletter and watch our website for updates.


Functional Skills are qualifications that enable learners to apply their skills in everyday life, and can be contextualised for individual study programmes. They are available in English, maths and ICT.

The government wants to ensure everyone has an appropriate opportunity to improve their maths and English skills and achieve a credible qualification that employers recognise. Functional Skills offers a different route certify achievement of applied literacy and numeracy skills for life and work.

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