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Functional skills - bu gger

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by killercv_12345, May 25, 2010.

  1. Bu gger.
    Just found out today that I have to teach this **** from September with year 10, 1 lesson a week 40 mins. I have some questions ....
    i) The pilot appears to be finishing in early June. Does this mean that the specification is not fixed yet and may change? Looking at the AQA site, it seems to be suggesting that their specification has been accredited? (I won't ask what the point of a pilot is, if the specifications are already fixed, assuming that is the case!)
    ii) Am I right to think that there is 1 specification for the course? OCR and AQA's look the same?
    iii) My remit, after a little chat with the Head this morning, is to get them to pass asap. He "isn't interested in them learning anything" - direct quote. As soon as they pass ICT, they will move on to do extra maths and English. Any opinions about what the easist exam board is for functional friggin skills?
    iv) Is it too early to recommend resources, that allow for minimum planning time / maximum teaching to the test?
    40 mins a week isn't long and the pupils I have are the very weak ones, who are doing the Diploma. Any advice?
     
  2. 1 & 2: The 'teaching programmes' / 'specs' offered by the boards are fairly much the same. . Its the functional skills standards document that is the only required and essential reading:
    http://www.ofqual.gov.uk/files/QCA-07-3472-functional-skills_standards.pdf
    3. Your head's reaction is understandable but its also extremely unwise. They will have to be taught well in order to pass the test (and they will need to be confident and know their stuff at level 2 in particular). Functional skills is not an easy ride. And if you have any structural weaknesses in your teaching at KS3 you will shown to be short in what is essentially a can/can't do test.
    I have used all the exam boards at level 1 and 2. They are fairly much the same challenge, although students report the OCR has easier to understand questions.
    4. My advice:- plan every lesson well and take the whole endeavour seriously (Edexcel have some v useful docs/resources on their site), and make sure they are very well drilled on spreadsheet essentials (grrr!!! bl**dy functional skills!).
    The (old) government really c*cked up the Diploma by having English, Maths and ICT FS as the extra hurdles to passing the diploma. I'm praying the tories/libs scrap the Diploma and end everyones misery (and the linked compulsory need to teach FS). Because which school would sensibly offer this as a discrete qualification?
     
  3. I can vouch for everything mbwstars said.
    I have been attending training and meetings both locally and regionally all year and have come to the conclusion that it is to be avoided at all costs! Fortunately my working estalishment don't do diplomas, so we don't have to do FS.
    Attendance at some of the ICT specific events I have been to have been very poorly represented by schools, but there were quite a few work based learning providers there. I would recommend you find your local Beneast or similar and see what resources they have already produced. I would also find out if any schools in your local area have piloted the qualification.
    Most importantly you should have a look at the specifications and exemplar materials.
    http://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/type/fs_2010/ict/l2/documents/index.html
    I was told that in reality students would need at least 75 GLH in order to have a hope of achieving 'mastery' in order to have even a hope of passing the exam.
    The first time I read through one of the Level 1 papers I found the questions confusing, never mind Level 2! Definitely not a course for weak students.
     
  4. Typical exam boards. Typical QCDA to not be on top of this major peoblem.
    a) http://www.ofqual.gov.uk/files/QCA-07-3472-functional-skills_standards.pdf is from 2007, there isn't a 2010 version and it is very very different to the 'approved' specifications on the various exam boards' sites.
    b) The Pilot finishes in a few weeks, yet the exam boards are saying their specifications are accredited. Really? Presumably, then, the Pilot is just paying lip service to trialling this new 'course'. The reality is that it was set years ago, and regardless of the outcomes of the Pilot, nothing will change at all - no one will learn any lessons from it and the specifications won't change one jot as a result of the experiences of schools over the last 3 years.
    c) Exam board materials to support this mess of a course are thin to non-existant. Some specimen materials are just gibberish, with data files on their website being corrupted or not matching the specimen exam papers, or not matching their own accredited specification.
    d) Why do some exam boards think a 2 hour exam is fine, but others feel the need for a 3 hour exam? Is that an example of exam board innovation, why we need five exam boards?
    e) Why are all exam boards leaving it so late to start putting on courses to support teachers? Why have exam boards not already prepared a range of support material for their functional skills? Why don't these exam boards learn that last minute planning, which is what they do again and again, really p1 sses off heads of ICT, who have to sort out their own internal training, assess and then buy materials, work out timetabling etc etc.
    f) Why does the preparation for functional skills remind me of the new GCSE ICT "support" courses I attended in London recently - utter confusion, mistakes, missing documents and already the lead deliverers of these courses are blaming QCDA for what they have had to put in the GCSE? Shame on all the exam boards.
    This is why functional skills are cr * p.
     
  5. There is a 2010 version - this is now the responsibility of Ofqual not QCDA, which is why of the version for teaching from Sept is not on QCDA website (although you'd think they'd make that clear).You can find the criteria here http://www.ofqual.gov.uk/qualification-and-assessment-framework/89-articles/238-functional-skills-criteria. Exam boards' new assessments have to conform to those criteria.
    The pilot is still in existence; but only for students registered in schools that are part of a pilot, so the current Year 10 could sit assessments for the pilot specs if they are registered before the accreditation date (usually July 31) and if the exam board are running a pilot at the appropriate time and if they're in a pilot school.
    I agree that the support from exam boards is not timely - but some are still to get their assessments approved by Ofqual. Given how poor and uninteresting some of the pilot ones were let's hope that's because Ofqual want something better. If functional skills actually do test what they're supposed to be all about, then this will be very welcome - on the other hand they may just be another assessment of irrelevant information for a few points.
     
  6. "let's hope that's because Ofqual want something better"
    ROFLOL
     
  7. Hi

    Just wondering if now we're a year down the line, of anyone could tell/advise which appears to be the best board for the fucntional skills for my students to stand the best chance of passing!!!
     
  8. I'd say OCR...
     
  9. cj3

    cj3

    We do Edexcel. It's OK. The test does test if they can create leaflets, presnetations and spreadsheets and use the internet to find information. I don't think there was a database task this year. We do find we teach to the test - especially with the spreadsheet task - which is the one that they find most difficult. There are not so many good supporting resources - but I do not think it is a difficult course to deliver or manage. And there are several testing windows. But we only had a small cohort - so maybe its a different story if you have to enter a whole year group.
     
  10. We put our prospective Diploma students (around 20 Year 11s) through Edexcel L2 in June last year. They all failed, without exception. We put them through again after they'd started their diploma, and all but one failed again. At an unrelated course I was on, I happened to talk to (shall we just say someone quite influential in FS) who suggested we tried the AQA spec, not because the questions were easier but because the questions were better written.
    We put the same group through AQA in the last window - all but one passed.
    Looking through the past papers, I think the questions are easier as well. For example, in the last one there was a poster, a presentation, a fairly simple spreadsheet, a database question from which the most difficult bit was a query with two criteria, and the email and theory stuff, again quite simple.
    Meanwhile, on other specs I've seen mailmerge, sorting, conditional cell formatting, IF statements, and absolute and relative cell referencing.
    My advice would be - do AQA, and teach the students by hammering past papers over and over again.



     

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