Embed elements of functional skills

Alright, we are on to T5. Check out the full list of Ptlls assignments if you need a different one. This assignment is part of the tiny section 2 on understanding appropriate teaching and learning approaches in the specialist area.  This is probably the essay you get to talk most about your own specialism.

Level 3 – Explain ways to embed elements of Functional Skills, in your specialist area. Recommended word count 200-300 words.

Level 4 – Evaluate a range of ways to embed elements of Functional Skills, in your specialist area. Recommended word count 300-400 words.

It’s easy to give up on this question and dismiss it as irrelevant but it’s actually really good fun. And really important. Functional skills is becoming a bigger and bigger deal and that deal is that it has to be integrated – embedded – in to the main subject: not an hour or two of maths crowbarred on to the course.

So, put on your thinking cap and have a brainstorm. This is what wanting to be a tutor is all about. Get passionate. Get adventurous.

Functional skills

So functional skills (I’m not going to use the official capitalisation malarkey) used to be known as key skills. The big pilot transition just wrapped up last year and you can find out more and official stuff at the QCDA. Anyway, drum roll for our functional skills please…

  • Literacy (English / reading / ‘riting)
  • Numeracy (Maths / ‘rithmatic)
  • ICT (Information Communication Technology / IT / Computing)

You might think it’s a case of having to make up some stuff but it’s really not, these three elements are in everything and it’s just about identifying them and pulling them out. For example in my specialism of history/heritage there are plenty of excuses to get literary such as creative writing about an event or fictional journalling. There’s some room for maths: dates, timelines, economics. And ICT is my favourite cos I get to crack out the video games. There could also be online research projects etc.

Technical people like beauty therapists are all over this, there aren’t much better ways to get maths in than all those ratios, timings, mixings, formulas, solutions and so on. There are some really handy mediums that can capture both: blogging for example would count for both literacy and ICT. I defy you not to be able to find the literacy, numeracy and ICT opportunities that lie dormant in your specialty. And if you can’t you can email me and I’ll brainstorm with you. Now that’s a guarantee.

Level 3 and 4

You might as well push for level 4 if only to get the extra word count. It’s that fundamental difference again between “explain” and “evaluate a range”. Level 4 is looking for something broader and more analytical, showing you have thought round this and considered multiple options, weighing them up against each other. And there are many multiples of options.

Okay! Hope that helped. Drop a comment if you have anything to add. The rest of the essays are on the Ptlls assignments page if you need a different one. There’s more on functional skills as well, going in to a bit more detail in identifying the functional skills in your specialism.


  1. 21 October, 2011
  2. 14 November, 2011
  3. 18 November, 2011
  4. 22 December, 2011
  5. 22 December, 2011
  6. 18 May, 2012
  7. 11 September, 2013
  8. 16 September, 2013
  9. 3 December, 2016

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