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Teaching approaches and models of delivery

Key challenges 

Promoting functional skills to teachers, learners and employers

Being able to give good-quality information to teachers, learners and employers is important. Section 4 of the Functional Skills Support Programme booklet has some useful ideas.

Planning for provision

Several booklets have been developed, with a focus on adult learners. They include planning for workplace provision, as well as other settings:

Upskilling staff

It is possible that staff will need some CPD focusing on the delivery and assessment of functional skills. The Professional Development Planning provider kit supports providers to audit training needs for all staff, including work-based learning assessors and literacy and numeracy teachers. See also Section 2: Self-check and action-planning for information about using the Readiness tool for auditing CPD needs.

There are two broad groups of staff involved in functional skills: 

  • The English, mathematics, and ICT specialists, who have direct responsibility for assessment, planning programmes and teaching functional skills, and the specialist teachers of vocational subjects, who have responsibility for teaching English, mathematics and ICT alongside their specialist subject. Note though that ICT teachers do not require a subject-specific teaching qualification.
  • All other staff who have a responsibility for generally supporting the development of English, mathematics and ICT skills and provide opportunities to practice them in their own area of learning or vocational area.

These two groups will have differing training and CPD needs.

Current advice (February 2012) is that there are no specific requirements for teaching functional skills. The current requirements for teaching in the FE and skills sector apply, ie Diploma in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector (DTLLS) or a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) in relevant subject areas. It is for provider organisations to assure themselves that teachers have appropriate levels of subject competence. Skills for Life teaching qualifications in literacy, ESOL or numeracy indicate that the teacher has the right skills and teaching expertise to teach functional skills in English or mathematics.

Other people supporting learners on functional skills programmes, for example, assessors and learning support practitioners, would benefit from additional training to support learners on functional skills programmes.

A work-based training provider has noted that the model of delivery currently used for key skills would not meet functional skills requirements and that more direct teaching is needed. Read more about this in Case study – Scientiam Ltd

A suite of functional skills CPD programmes, developed and piloted in 2012, is available on the Excellence Gateway:

  • Managing the transition from key skills to functional skills
  • Improving initial and diagnostic assessment for functional skills
  • Target setting for functional skills
  • Developing approaches to assessment and problem solving in functional skills
  • Blended learning approaches for functional skills
  • Embedding literacy, language, numeracy and ICT skills into vocational programmes

A number of CPD programmes (Embedding Functional Skills, Whole Organisation Approach, and Assessment for Learning) may be found on the Being Functional site.

The Functional Skills Support Programme developed a number of functional skills training modules designed specifically to support practitioner CPD. The modules developed for teachers working with adult learners are available on the Excellence Gateway Treasury.

Other CPD programmes, useful but not specific to functional skills, are to be found on the Supporting your CPD website and Skills for Life CPD pages.

See also Section 5: Professional development, which has more detailed information about CPD. 

  • Making sure learners are on the right programme of learning Accurate and relevant initial assessment is critical to ensure that learners do not have the experience of finding themselves on an inappropriate programme of learning.