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Orchard Therapeutic Farm - Alternative Provision

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Functional Skills

What are Functional Skills?


“Functional skills are practical skills in English, mathematics and information and communication technology (ICT) that allow individuals to operate confidently, effectively and independently in life and work.” (Department for Education and Skills)


Functional Skills are the fundamental English and Maths skills that people need for their working and personal lives. People can study for the qualifications in practical ways and apply core skills to real-life situations.

English and Maths are essential subjects that are included in most training and education programmes. They are a required part of Diplomas, Foundation Learning Programmes and Apprenticeships. Functional Skills can be studied as stand-alone qualifications or as a stepping stone to GCSEs or as an alternative.

Functional Skills assess the fundamental skills of English and maths and help to prepare people with the skills that they may need in their working and professional lives.


There are different levels of Functional Skills Qualifications:

  • Entry Level 1
  • Entry Level 2
  • Entry Level 3
  • Level 1
  • Level 2


Entry-level 1-3 is below GCSE level, Level 1 is equivalent to GCSE grades 1-3 and Level 2 is comparable to GCSE grade 4.

Once learners have completed one level of a Functional Skills Qualification, they can progress onto the next level, after Level 1 and 2 learners can choose to study further, like at a GCSE level, or progress into employment or vocational training.

All Functional Skills Assessments are graded as either pass or fail. There isn’t any coursework or portfolio-based elements, and the qualification result is based solely on assessment papers. At OTF these exams can be taken online. The online exams can be taken on demand whenever the learner feels ready, but paper exams must be completed when the awarding body sets dates.

Learners are not expected to have any prior knowledge or qualifications before enrolling in a Functional Skills program.


The Importance of Functional Skills Qualifications

One of the most important reasons that learners should consider taking Functional Skills Qualifications is that they help to equip learners with the skills they need for the workplace, which is very attractive for employers and they are also evidence that young people and adults have a basic level qualification in life skills in English and Maths.


How can OTF support learners?

OTF offer functional skills to our secondary groups. We are a registered centre to administer exams once a learner is prepared. Recognising that many learners may not have proficiency in English and maths, our approach focuses on bolstering their confidence and building their skills through vocational portfolios.

We employ specialised and qualified  tutors for English and Maths who conduct sessions either in small groups or on a one-on-one basis. The learning environment is both friendly and workshop-oriented, ensuring a student-centric atmosphere. Each learner undergoes an initial assessment to determine their starting point, following which an individualised learning plan is crafted to monitor progress and ensure goal attainment.

To maintain consistent engagement and motivation, learners convene either weekly or bi-weekly. This frequent interaction ensures they remain connected to the course and have a clear point of contact with their tutor for any questions or concerns. Additionally, an online learning portal is provided, enabling learners to work autonomously on assigned tasks, complemented by pre-existing tutor-led instructional videos.