Functional skills offer a shorter and more suitable way to meet entry requirements for many courses. Therefore they are a great way to gain the fundamental skills you need to succeed in vocational learning. In this blog post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about functional skills.

What Are Functional Skills?

Functional skills are the essential Maths, English and ICT skills that people are likely to require in the workplace (and sometimes for day-to-day tasks in their personal lives too). Functional skills courses cover the fundamentals of these subjects and enable people to apply what they’re learning within these subjects to real-life, practical situations.

The words skills and success with images of cogs connecting them.

Is Functional Skills equivalent to GCSE?

Functional skills can be completed as standalone courses or as an introduction to what will be studied during GCSEs. In fact, levels 1 and 2 are alternative qualifications to GCSEs and are nationally recognised qualifications.

Functional Skills Level 2 is equivalent to a grade 4-9 GCSE (Grades C-A* using the previous GCSE grading system). Functional Skills Level 1 equates to grades 1, 2 and 3 for GCSEs (Grades D-F under the previous grading system).

One reason you may choose to complete Functional skills courses instead of GCSEs is that the courses require fewer hours of study than GCSEs, which can be beneficial for those with other commitments.

What Are the Benefits of Completing Functional Skills Courses?

As they involve fewer hours of study, these courses can also be completed even quicker than GCSEs. In fact, as a distance learning college, Oxbridge enables pupils to complete qualifications at their own pace, anywhere they’d like to study. This flexibility offers a significant advantage to our students. You can study on your phone, laptop or tablet.

Oxbridge students also benefit from personal tutor support. Upon enrolment, students are assigned a dedicated personal tutor who will have extensive experience in their field of study. If students get stuck or would like some advice during their course, they can contact their tutor for timely and effective help and support.

Our Functional Skills courses take an average of about two months to complete. However, if you decide to enrol, we give our students six months to finish their course. If you need longer, just ask us to arrange an extension for you. We also offer a six-month study break for free if you require it.

Do Employers Respect Functional Skills?

Many employers respect functional skills as qualifications. In addition to the functional skills level 1 and level 2 courses being viewed as equivalent to GCSE qualifications, many employers see functional skills as a useful stepping stone before apprenticeships.

Employer feedback was given to the Department for Education when they suggested new subject content for functional skills courses.

What is the Subject Content for Functional Skills?

Most of the content has remained the same as before. However, after the recent refresh (September 2019), the functional skills course content tends to focus on the skills gained from other qualifications too, like GCSEs. The Functional Skills English course concentrates more on spelling, grammar and punctuation than the previous syllabus, whereas the Functional Skills Maths course is aligned with problem-solving.

Dice on a table spell out the word English.

How Are Functional Skills Courses Assessed?

The courses are graded as either a ‘pass’ or ‘fail’. As they are exam-based, students do not need to create a portfolio for them.

If you choose to enrol with us, the exams can either be taken online with a remote invigilator at your home, or as a paper-based version at our college. Last year, exams were replaced by Centre Assessment Grades (CAGs) due to the pandemic. However, exams are expected to go ahead from this year onwards.

What Are the Awarding Bodies for Functional Skills?

Many awarding bodies accredit functional skills courses. Functional skills awarding bodies include NCFE, AQA and OCR. Our Functional skills qualifications are awarded by NCFE. The courses are now regulated by Ofqual to ensure consistency and fairness when calculating grades.

Which Functional Skills Courses Are Available?

There are a variety of functional skills qualifications that you can obtain. These include Maths level 1, English level 1, Digital Skills level 2, Functional Skills English level 2 and Functional Skills Maths Level 2.