How to Provide Opportunities to Learners Essay Sample

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Introduction of TOPIC

According to the Department of Children, Schools and Families ‘Functional skills are the essential elements of English, mathematics and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) that provide people with the skills they need to operate confidently, effectively and independently in learning, life and work (Brolin and Kokaska 1995). Better functional skills help to raise standards across the curriculum, improve learners’ employment prospects, and support their progression to further study’ (Department for Education, 2010)

As an associate ‘Literacy’ tutor within the offender learning environment, the course naturally consists of literacy and language. I purposely try to include numeracy and ICT on a regular basis, which can be difficult at times due to the resources and security issues within the prison setting.

As my specialist subject is Literacy within offender learning, activities undertaken revolve around this key functional skill. Everything that the students undertake links into literacy. I regular get the students to write in different forms e.g. letter writing, emails, articles and reports, because these are the key writing forms used within our daily lives and its important students are confident when writing in this way. This prepares students for life outside of the classroom, encouraging them to write appropriately and confidently.

I am a keen believer of developing numeracy skills within education and therefore attempt to incorporate numeracy activities on a regular basis within my literacy lessons. Sometimes it is simply using mathematical starter activities first thing such as completing a Sudoku, or answering a range of calculations. I find this is change from the literacy tasks they regularly undertake yet a good ‘brain teaser’ to start the session off and get the students brains into gear.

When discussing specific subject areas I also try to embed numeracy skills to enhanc

e students learning. For example my students recently completed a presentation on the holocaust, and

as part of this I wanted them to research how many Jews were killed during WWII, and what the ratio would be for the students within the class today and the prison population, to enable the students to understand what fraction of the population would be killed if it was to repeat itself in modern times.

Language is possibly the easiest of the four key functional skills to embed in Literacy lessons, because it is a natural tool that students use to communicate, and therefore the majority are already confident when talking with one another. As part of my lessons I regularly hold discussions with students on an individual basis or as part of the group. This is to allow students to express their opinions and improve their communication skills whether it is a debate, discussion, role play, presentation etc.

It is also the one functional skill that I find students don’t hesitate or have problems to take part in; this may be because they are unaware that it is planned or assessed. The hurdles faced as a tutor with regards to developing a student’s language skills are usually encouraging students to use appropriate language (especially within offender learning), encouraging students to increase their vocabulary.

I see ICT as a fundamental resource for all subjects in today’s society due to the importance it now plays in everyone’s daily lives. Due to this, I attempt to embed ICT work into the majority of the activities my students undertake. For example as part of the Functional skills literacy qualification students are expected to form a group discussion to develop their communication and language skills, to follow this I get my students to take notes throughout and then create a report using Microsoft word to evidence and summarise what was said during the discussion. I also use ICT to give students a chance to create well presented and smart work for presentation, ranging from creating newspaper articles, leaflets, email’s etc which are all key writing layouts that can be present within the functional skills exam.

Embedding functional skills within educational subjects can be successful, if well planned and designed. Teaching staff should focus on integrating the different skills into a project or larger activity where the various skills are needed for completion to be achieved. I believe that this makes learning effective for all, as it encourages students to use a variety of skills.


Billingsley, F. and Albertson, L.. (2000). Finding a future for functional skills. Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps. 24 (4), p298-306. Brolin, E. and Kokaska, C. (1995). Career education: A functional life skills approach. 3rd ed. Englewood Cliffs: Merrill. P34-56. Department for Education (2010). Leading functional skills in secondary schools. London. p6-15.

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