Functional skills funding to double

Functional skills funding to double

The FE Minister has pledged to double the amount of money available for adult English and maths skills branding it a “scandal”many Britons “couldn’t read or add up properly”

Matthew Hancock (pictured) made the announcement welcomed by FE leaders during a speech at AoC’s annual conference in Birmingham.

“And there is one area where Britain should lead the world, but where sinfully we have allowed ourselves to fall behind,” Mr Hancock told the packed main hall at the ICC.

“Here in these islands, we invented the English language that now dominates the globe. It is the global language: of trade, of culture, of diplomacy, and of the arts. And our history is littered with many of the advances in mathematics too.

“Yet too many of our young people cannot read or write, or add up properly,” he said.

“This is a scandal and it must change.”

He said to “show the value” the government attached to English and maths he was “doubling the amount we pay for adult English and Maths functional skills, and for English and Maths within an apprenticeship.”

But the Skills Funding Agency declined to tell FE Week when the rate increase would become available nor where funding would come from to afford the rate increase.

A spokesperson said: “We are implementing some rate increases for English and maths qualifications. This is in advance of the introduction of the new funding system in 2013/14. Further details on this will be available on our website later this week.”

The National Institute for Adults Continuing Education (NIACE) “warmly” welcomed Mr Hancock’s news.

Carol Taylor, director of development and research, said the organisation had called for recognition that all adults “need to be able to read and write to a functional level” to play a full-part in their family, in work and society.

“Over 3000 people took part in NIACE maths challenges at the recent Skills Show, and many asked for advice on how to improve their English and maths,” she said.

“One woman was able to do entry level English at college but unable to do maths as the college was not able to offer her a class.”

“We will continue to work with colleges and providers to help them develop functional skills for all learners, regardless of their age or the stage of their learning.”

The minister also set out his intention to consult on rigorous 16-19 vocational qualifications, to help ensure minimum levels of performance were applied equally to college and school sixth forms.

The 157 Group, an organisation that represents 27 FE colleges, supported this.

Marilyn Hawkins, group chair, said: “We are pleased these announcements acknowledge the need to ensure high-quality pathways are available for all learners. They reflect our view that colleges provide a vital element in the learning of 14 to 24-year-olds of all abilities.”

Lynne Sedgmore, executive director of the 157 Group, added, “We welcome the minister’s reaffirmed commitment to levelling the quality playing field between schools and colleges, something for which we have long argued.”

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UPDATE: On Friday 23 November the Skills Funding Agency published a document which said the rate increase would apply for this year (2012/13) – click here to download the document.

Using figures from this document, the table below describes the actual increase for 2012/13, which is in fact more than double the current rate.