Essential Skills Wales qualifications (Converged Key and Basic Skills)
Date of decision / Dyddiad y penderfyniad:
22 September 2008
Statement of information / Datganiad gwybodaeth:
Wales shares with England and Northern Ireland the policy aim of ensuring young people master the skills needed for later in life. Key Skills and Basic Skills qualifications are central to our skills’ agenda in Wales. Achievement in Key Skills is increasing year on year, including within our flagship Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification (WBQ).
In January 2005, the Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning agreed to aligning Key and Basic skills standards and converging Key and Basic Skills qualifications into a single suite of qualifications.
During 2006, QCA in England was given the remit to develop Functional Skills in Mathematics, English and Information Communication Technology following publication of the 14 – 19 White Paper and the Skills Strategy in England. In England, the intention was, and continues to be, that new Functional Skills qualifications will replace the current Basic and Key Skills qualifications and at level 2 to be incorporated as a hurdle within GCSE English, Mathematics and ICT. The proposals expect every youngster in England to master these Functional Skills before leaving education or training. DCELLS shares with England and Northern Ireland the policy aims to converge the current Key Skills and (Basic) Adult Literacy/Adult Numeracy Skills into one suite of standards from entry level to level 4 and to ensure young people master the skills needed for later in life.
QCA has developed draft Functional Skills standards which have not been agreed across Wales, England and Northern Ireland but were accepted as the basis for pilot work in England from September 2007. It was agreed that whilst maintaining a watching brief on these developments, DCELLS would develop and implement alternative models to address these policy aims by converging the current Adult Literacy and Adult Numeracy qualifications with the current Key Skills qualifications to produce a single suite of skills qualifications from entry level 1 to level 4 (as per advice to the WAG February 2005). It was also agreed that Welsh, English, Mathematics and ICT GCSE criteria would be reviewed and revised in order to provide more focus on the ‘basics’ within these subjects.
An independent consultant was appointed to draft converged standards and those standards were consulted upon in January 2007 via a web based consultation and focus groups. The consultation focused on both the content of the new standards and the appropriate titles for the suite of skills and the individual skills in order to identify suitable replacement options for the current Key and Basic Skills brands. Subsequently, the standards were revised and subjected to further focus groups of external key stakeholders during the autumn and winter of 2007/2008, including specialists representing access and DDA organizations. The standards were then revised where appropriate. Amplification of assessment requirements is being developed which will include as appropriate the reasonable adjustments and/or exemptions that can be applied in order to minimize barriers to access without compromising the validity of the standard. During April 2008, the standards were agreed, subject to the agreement on the titles for the individual skills and overarching suite of skills.
It is proposed that the new suite of skills be named Essential Skills Wales/Sgiliau Hanfodol Cymru, with the individual skills named Communication, ICT and Application of Number. It is proposed that the standards and qualifications are implemented in September 2010 as replacements for the current Key and Basic Skills standards and qualifications. The standards will be placed on the DCELLS website for key stakeholders to view them.
Provision of Key and Basic Skills training for post-16 learners is delivered in pursuance of the functions of the Welsh Ministers’ (“WM”) as provided in sections 31 to 35 of the Learning and Skills Act 2002. Section 30 of the Education Act 1997 (“the 1997 Act”) sets out the functions of the WM in relation to external vocational and academic qualifications (other than NVQs). Section 28 of the 1997 Act sets out the general function of the WM to advance education and training. The section provides that the functions conferred on the WM shall be exercised by the WM for the purpose of advancing education and training in Wales, and shall be exercised with a view to promoting quality and coherence in education and training in relation to which they have functions under Part V of the 1997 Act.