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Functional Skills

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Mike Baker unravels the popularity of and policy behind the emphasis on functional skills; the latest attempt to ensure education delivers work and life skills.

In 2005, the then education secretary, Ruth Kelly, launched a "relentless drive" to improve basic skills in reading, writing and literacy, with the policy manifesting as a requirement for all teenagers to pass "hurdle tests" in English, maths and ICT.

The tests are designed to demonstrate that the students can apply their understanding of these subjects in "real situations", and have been part of a large-scale pilot project since September 2007.

As the relationship between functional skills, the tests, and the new GCSEs is only beginning to become clear, education journalist Mike Baker runs through what those in education need to know and them.

Part of the series: Need to Know

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