Finding the right qualification for you can seem quite impossible. You need to find the qualification that will give you more opportunities and still it must be useful every step of the way. The right qualification also needs to be enjoyable enough for you to complete it yet still challenging enough to be worthwhile. There are so many more requirements that you may have for what the right qualification for you needs to have. The problem is that finding this qualification is made even more difficult without the right knowledge.
For example, a functional skills qualification may be perfect for you. However, it may not even be a qualification that you’ve heard of as it isn’t talked about as much as GCSEs, BTECs or even A-Levels.
In short, a functional skills qualification is a foundation qualification that you can get in 3 different subjects. These are English, maths and computing and technology (ICT). The idea of the functional skills course is to provide you with the necessary skills in that subject area that you can apply to you everyday life. As well as everyday life, these skills are meant to be applied to the workplace. They come in 3 different levels. Due to this, the courses and their difficulty will vary depending on which one you choose.
Continue reading to learn more about functional skills qualifications, including their level and how long they take. If you’re wondering what qualification to take and this brief summary piqued your interest, this article will help you to find out if a function skills qualification really is perfect for you.
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What is a functional skills course?
A functional skills qualification is pretty much what the name suggests. It is a foundation course that teaches you the basic skills in that subject area. The idea of the course is to teach the subject in a practical way.
This is so that you can then apply the skills you’ve learnt to the real world, particularly in a work environment. Due to this, it is often taken by vocational course students and may even be a part of an apprenticeship’s framework.
Due to their nature as foundation qualifications meant to give basic skills in their subject areas, the functional skills qualification only comes in 3 subjects. These are English, maths and information, computing and technology (ICT). For more information about functional skills qualifications and the subjects you can get them in, check out this article from BSKB.
What level is a functional skills course?
While you now know what a functional skills qualification is, you need to learn more about it. This is particularly essential if you are generally considering taking a functional skills course. One of the most useful things you can learn about a functional skills qualification is what level it is at. This is important for several reasons.
First of all, it is important as depending on the level may depend on what qualifications you’ll expected to have already achieved. Also, the level it is at tells you what level of qualification you’ll receive at the end of your course. This may be essential for certain applications, whether this is for jobs or further study, as they may want you to have a specific level of education.
On top of that, knowing what level can give you some indication of how difficult your course is going to be. You can try to figure this out by comparing it to more familiar qualifications at the same level.
A functional skills qualification is available at entry level, level 1 and level 2. This means that you can pick the right level that you need or are prepared for.
An entry level course is the most basic level of qualification in the UK. It has 3 sub levels with entry level 3 being the highest. These sub levels are equivalent to levels 1, 2 and 3 of the Scottish SCQF levels respectively.
What is a functional skills course equivalent to?
|Functional skills||Equivalent qualification|
|Functional skills level 1||GCSE grade 1-3 (D-G)|
|Functional skills level 2||GCSE grade 4 (C)|
A level 1 course or level 4 in Scotland is the equivalent of GCSE grades 1, 2 or 3 or D, E, F and G. It is also the equivalent to a Scottish National 4 qualification.
A level 2 course or level 5 in Scotland is equivalent to passing grades at GCSE or a Scottish National 5 qualification.
What is involved in a functional skills course?
As mentioned above, the functional skills qualifications aim to provide students with the necessary English, maths and ICT skills to thrive in everyday life. However, you may be wondering how exactly students can actually learn this on a course.
To put it simply, the functional skills course will follow specific criteria for each subject and each level. These criteria will set out the skills and standards that students need to be achieving to pass the course at the end. For more about this, check out this guide by UCAS.
To learn more about what is involved for each subject, look at the following headings.
What is involved in an English functional skills course?
The idea of the English functional skills qualification is to provide students with the ability to read and write accurately in their daily lives. This writing is also to be with good grammar and spelling. Due to this, the English functional skills qualification has 3 main components. These are reading, writing and speaking, listening and communicating.
In this case, reading is described as the understanding of written language. This makes this part of the functional skills course more about comprehension than reading itself.
Writing in the English functional skills qualification is about more than just putting words together. You will also need to do this for a specific context. This is an important skill development, especially for the workplace as you may need to write important emails or reports.
The speaking, listening and communicating segment is all about non-written communication. This is once again an absolutely essential skill to develop to survive in any workplace, as you will need to be able to interact with your colleagues as well as your manager. To learn more about the English functional skills course, check out this government document.
What is involved in a maths functional skills course?
The main idea of the maths functional skills qualification is to allow students to develop their mathematical problem-solving abilities. This is done by focusing on three main components. Unlike with the English functional skills qualification, these components are meant to be more interconnected, and this is also a focus with the teaching.
These three components are number and the number system, shape and space and information and data. While they are all the same for each level, the level of difficulty will increase as the level does. Due to this increase in difficult, there will also be an increased overlap and connections between these three components.
To learn more about the functional skills maths qualification, check out this governmental guide.
What is involved in an ICT functional skills course?
The idea of the functional skills qualification in information and communication technology (ICT) is to allow students to develop the digital skills they need to be able to work effectively in real life. This is especially for in the workplace and education.
At entry level, the student is supposed to come out with the ability to use technology, to find and select information and to present and communicate information. For more information about this, check out this specification from Pearson Edexcel.
These aims for the qualification are the same at levels 1 and 2. The difference being that as they are higher qualifications, they are more difficult and more complex. For more about the level 1 and 2 ICT functional skills qualification, check out this specification from Pearson Edexcel.
How long do functional skills courses last?
When finding the right course for you, you may often think about how much time it will take for you to complete. Whether this is because you need to balance your studies with your already busy life or simply so that you can complete it as soon as possible. Knowing how long your course will last can help you to fully make the most out of it.
Due to the different levels of functional skills and the wide range of different course providers, functional skills courses can greatly vary in the amount of time they last. On average, functional skills students take between 8 to 12 weeks to complete their courses. However, others may finish much quicker and may even be able to complete their course in about 4 weeks.
Despite this, some course providers will allow up to a year for the student to complete the course. To learn more about this, check out this guide by Runway Training.
While this can also greatly vary based on the course provider, with a functional skills course you should have about 55 hours of guided study in total. This boils down to about 2 hours per day for a 4-week course. If you would like to learn more about this, check out this guide by Learn Direct. Please note that this may be different for other course providers.