Delivering Level 2 Functional Skills to Learner with GCSE

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This topic contains 9 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Ruth CJ 9 months, 1 week ago.

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  • Alastair Gilbert

    We have a learner who we have assessed as below Level 2 in mathematics but she has a GCSE grade C from some years ago. I’m trying to clarify the funding situation for her to do Level 2 functional skills or GCSE maths.

    As far as I can determine, paragraphs 68 – 71 say that since we have assessed her and her prior learning is not relevant (i.e. she can no longer perform at level 2) she is eligible for funding (for both GCSE and Level 1). These paragraphs reference paragraph 161, but that just seems to clarify which maths (or English) qualifications are funded for learners who have not achieved Grade C/4. They say nothing about those who have, but have lost skills.

    I’ve found quite a few threads on here that discuss this sort of situation for apprentices, but this learner is not one, just someone who wants to update her maths skills. Any thoughts on whether I’m reading the rules correctly?


    Martin West

    I think you have taken the Recognition of prior learning section out of context the ESFA would not fully fund English or Maths where the learner had previously attained a GCSE grade C.


    Alastair Gilbert

    So where does the line get drawn? How old and out of date does a qualification have to be to no longer count? What about and old ‘O’ level?

    I’m sure I remember my predecessor as MIS officer saying that if the qualification was old enough (5 years??), we could fund functional skills.


    Martin West

    The current funding rule is simple:
    The AEB legal entitlement for English and maths is, up to and including level 2, for individuals aged 19 and over, who have not previously attained a GCSE grade A* – C or grade 4, or higher.
    You can take this literally and say a GSE is not a GCSE and a learner would have the legal entitlement but where a learner has a GCSE at C or higher this can only be funded as full cost.


    Alastair Gilbert


    Okay, thanks. Still much to learn.


    Sue Bishop

    Alastair, there used to be a five year validity for GCSEs but that is no longer the case.

    Always worth doing a double check on the SASE transferable skills document to ensure you have an appropriate and acceptable exemption:




    Alastair Gilbert

    Sorry to carry on asking about this. I’m trying to understand more generally what the rules are regarding funding for maths and English learning aims depending on Initial Assessment and prior attainment.

    I always understood that learners had to be:

    1. Working on an aim higher than their IA level
    2. Not working towards a qualification they already possess or one at a lower level than they already possess

    Para 166 clearly covers point 1. I can’t find anything that supports point 2. The best I can find is paras 68 – 71 that I referenced earlier – which if anything seems to suggest that where an IA puts the learner at a lower level than prior learning the IA should take precedence. What am I missing?


    Ruth CJ

    Hi Alastair,

    I don’t think you can generally discount paragraph 161 just because they’ve lost skills. That eventuality isn’t covered, so you just have to go with what’s there, fair or not.

    My question would be, why does she want to do maths again? If she’s got a C grade, it shouldn’t be causing her problems with gaining employment. If it’s just because she feels like it, is that what government funding is for? I couldn’t pass a maths GCSE any more, but I don’t expect to do it again for free. Where would you draw the line on how much “lost skills” was enough to warrant a freebie? Also, you don’t need a formal qualification to brush up on your maths.

    Having said all that, we did have one exception where we chose to fund regardless, but this was because the student had had a significant head injury, which meant they were no longer able to work at anywhere near the same level as before, and needed to re-learn some basic maths to be able to do most jobs. They were doing this as part of a whole programme of study too. We were prepared to argue that with an auditor if needs be.


    Alastair Gilbert

    Sorry for ignoring this for so long Ruth, I’ve been on holiday.

    We are a Adult Education Department that is part of our local council. The council has just started a new policy where it does a maths/English assessment on all new employees and wants us to provide support to anyone who comes out below Level 2 – regardless of any existing qualifications. This particular employee has GCSEs from some years ago, but performed poorly on the assessment.

    I’m trying to figure out where we stand on funding – not just for this employee, but also more generally in cases where people are assessed significantly below the level of their qualifications since I’m sure I’ll get more such queries given the new policy. It begins to look like it won’t possible to fund anyone with L2/GCSE qualifications, but I’d like the best understanding I can get of the rules and where they are documented.


    Ruth CJ

    That sounds to me like it’s the council’s choice, and therefore I’d charge the council for any delivery that wasn’t fundable, as in this case. You could decide whether you would put them in for a formal qualification (and charge for the exam entry), or whether to just deliver some content and provide some internal certificate to say they’d done this.

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