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Functional Skills or Entry Level

Discussion in 'English' started by angrypixie, Jun 23, 2020.

  1. angrypixie

    angrypixie New commenter

    I teach an extremely weak Year 9 class and I am looking at what qualification to take them to over Years 10 and 11. From what I can make out Functional Skills and Entry Level are very similar but with Entry Level you assess the tests internally and then they are moderated externally whereas with Functional Skills they are assessed externally in Year 11 with the other exams. Is this correct?

    What should I go for and what are the benefits/drawbacks in terms of workload and benefits for the students, etc,

    Many thanks for any advice you can offer including which exam board to choose.
  2. bdedja

    bdedja New commenter

    Hi colleague,

    I would strongly suggest the AQA Step to English Silver /or Gold.
    It is a very straightforward qualification. my students have enjoyed it for the last two years.

    Good luck

    saluki likes this.
  3. angrypixie

    angrypixie New commenter

    Thanks for this. I have been looking at AQA online today but only found the level 1 and 2 stuff which I've printed out. Is there such thing as level 3 or have I imagined that? Also I didn't see the Silver of Gold thing so will Google that. This is totally new to me. I have no idea what I'm doing!
  4. CaptGrimesRetd

    CaptGrimesRetd Occasional commenter

    I'm sure you know that the Entry levels 1, 2 and 3 lead on to Functional Skills Level 1 and then Level 2.

    I would have a look at the Pearson Level 1 and 2 courses. They are designed to be accessible and deal with real-life issues / ideas / experiences. It might be worth having a look at their website, especially their practice papers.
  5. masterplan1001

    masterplan1001 New commenter

  6. masterplan1001

    masterplan1001 New commenter

    AQA also offer FS at Level 1 and Level 2. Four entry windows per year. Themed papers with a range of real world texts and authentic writing tasks.
  7. masterplan1001

    masterplan1001 New commenter

    FS can be taken by any year group, not just Y11. We enter some Y9s for exam practice and baseline exam assessments. AQA L2 dovetails with GCSE so can be used as a stepping stone for eligible students.
  8. angrypixie

    angrypixie New commenter

    No I didn't know this. Honestly, I am clueless. I thought that Entry level could lead to GCSE. I have been looking at the Step up to English and it does look good. Could they transfer to GCSE if necessary? Are the Step up to English qualifications worth having or should I go straight on to functional Sklls? I am looking at AQA as that seems most in tune with the AQA GCSE English Language paper which we do at our school.
  9. angrypixie

    angrypixie New commenter

    I am now more confused than ever. I assume that Step up to English is easier than Functional Skills? Could I do some Step up stuff to get an idea of their level and then decide later whether to progress to functional skills. Am I right in thinking that Step Up stuff is teacher assessed then externally moderated whilst FS is external exam?
  10. masterplan1001

    masterplan1001 New commenter

    Sorry for the confusion - there is a lot to take in. You are correct: as I said in my earlier post, Step Up is internally marked and externally moderated; FS is externally examined for R & W, internally marked for Spoken with external moderation. A differenve is that FS is all non-fiction texts whereas Step Up contains some literary elements. The two specs serve different needs but could easily be used in sequence. Best to look at both specifications and specimen papers on AQA website.
  11. CandysDog

    CandysDog Established commenter

    The confusion comes about because there are two different things at play, here:
    • Qualification level
    • Qualifications
    Qualification levels go from Entry Level (often subdivided into Entry 1, Entry 2 and Entry 3) to Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 etc.

    Lots of different qualifications are available at different levels. For example, A Levels are Level 3 qualifications, but so is the Extended Project. Some qualifications span levels depending on the grade awarded (a GCSE at grades 3–1 is Level 1, but a GCSE at grades 9–4 is Level 2). Other qualifications are available at different levels, but students can only get that level (such as a Level 2 BTEC).

    Traditionally, the most common qualification at Entry Level is the Entry Level Certificate (ELC). AQA’s Step-Up to English course is an ELC. Its Bronze, Silver and Gold levels are equivalent to Entry 1, Entry 2 and Entry 3 respectively.

    Functional Skills qualifications are available across Entry Level, Level 1 and Level 2 (though not all exam boards offer qualifications at all levels).

    Therefore, while Functional Skills at Level 1 is of a higher standard than ELC Step Up to English, Functional Skills at Entry Level is equivalent (the grades allow for differentiation between candidates, of course).

    Entry Level can lead to GCSE. Functional Skills can too (Functional Skills Level 2 is officially equivalent to a GCSE at grades 9–4, though this is often not the case in the real world).
  12. CaptGrimesRetd

    CaptGrimesRetd Occasional commenter

    I do not know the ins and outs of the AQA course, but Pearson offer the freedom of choosing between a handwriting and an online response and the papers can be taken whenever a learner is ready - Christmas Day included.

    This, of course, means that, like the driving test, learners can take it when they are ready.
  13. CaptGrimesRetd

    CaptGrimesRetd Occasional commenter

    A further wonderful thing about Functional Skills is that, like the driving test, it a straightforward Pass / Fail exam.

    How GCSEs can ever hope to differentiate responses into nine grades with any hope of accuracy is completely beyond me.

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