On-screen Maths Tests for Primary School Pupils

04 January 2016

KeyboardAs the Government continues their drive towards numeracy and literacy excellence for all, it has been unveiled that a new on-screen check will be used to test pupil’s mental arithmetic before they leave primary school. At age 11, all children in England will be expected to know their times tables right through to 12x12.

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Functional Skills Consultation to Begin on 14 January

02 December 2015

ETF LogoThe Education and Training Foundation (ETF) has announced that the consultation stage of their Functional Skills reform programme will begin on 14 January, lasting approximately three months. The consultation will be led by Pye Tait Consulting and NIACE, who were successful in their tender applications.

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bksb Selected as Bett Awards 2016 Finalist

13 November 2015

Bett Awards 2016 Finalist LogoWe’re proud to announce that bksb has been selected as a Bett Awards finalist for a second consecutive year. This time around our successful entry was in the ‘ICT Company of the Year’ category. Once again, bksb is the only solution of its type to be shortlisted, which reaffirms our position as the number one solution for Functional Skills and GCSE in the UK and further afield.

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Adult Education Funding Petition Delivered to Downing Street

02 November 2015

Petition ImageHaving attracted over 10,000 signatures, a petition to stop further reductions in adult education funding will receive a response from the government. The petition was delivered to Downing Street on Thursday (29 October) by five members of the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA), as well as Chi Onwurah MP.

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Reform Process for Functional Skills to Begin this Year

16 October 2015

Education and Training Foundation LogoA reform process for Functional Skills will begin this year, with a view to the updated qualifications being available in 2018, it has been announced. Skills Minister Nick Boles confirmed on Thursday (15 October) that the overhaul will be led by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF), who have been involved extensively in reviewing the English, maths and ICT qualifications in recent times.

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Important Maths and English Funding Information Released

30 September 2015

FundingFunding penalties for organisations who did not comply with funding conditions for English and maths in the 2014/15 academic year have been reduced, the Education Funding Agency (EFA) has announced.

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Support FE Colleges with GCSE English & Maths 'Resit Levy' Says Industry Think Tank

01 September 2015

Policy Exchange LogoIndustry think tank Policy Exchange has suggested introducing a ‘resit levy’ to help FE Colleges cope with the growing number, and costs, of GCSE English and Maths resits. Detailed in a report released last week, the recommended levy would involve schools covering all or some of the costs for students who do not achieve a ‘good pass’ in English and/or maths to retake their exams.

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GCSE Results: Overall Improvement in English & Maths Grades

20 August 2015

GCSE Results DayAccording to statistics for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, English and maths GCSE results have improved this year. A* - C grades for maths have increased 0.9 percentage points to 63.3%, whilst ‘good passes’ for GCSE English saw an even greater improvement, rising 3.7 percentage points to 65.4%.

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bksb's Australian Distributor Visits UK

04 August 2015

bksb Australian Distributerbksb’s Australian Distributor visited the UK last week, catching up with all of the company’s forthcoming developments in the process. TAFE Brisbane, which is Australia’s biggest college group, distribute bksb products down under in partnership with bksb’s UK office, and their Literacy and Numeracy Consultant, Kerin Bushell, spent a week with the bksb UK management team.

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AELP Release English & Maths Briefing

03 August 2015

AELP LogoOn Thursday (27 July), the Association of Education and Learning Providers (AELP) released a research briefing, outlining their thoughts and views on equivalent English and maths qualifications. The document reiterates AELP’s view that Functional Skills qualifications are valuable and should be viewed as equivalent to A*-C GCSEs, as opposed to a ‘stepping stone’ to GCSE achievement. The AELP also state their desire to help develop the Functional Skills brand in any way they can, and agree with the drive to improve standards.

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Education & Training Foundation to Produce Programme of Reform for Functional Skills

22 July 2015

ETF LogoNick Boles, the Minister for Skills and Equalities, has invited the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) to produce a programme of reform for Functional Skills. The task was revealed in a letter to providers that was published on 21 July, and follows the ETF’s ‘Making Maths and English Work for All’ report which was released earlier this year.

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The bksb Tour 2015: A resounding success

20 July 2015

bksb Tour 2015July can only mean one thing; the bksb Tour is over for another year. Almost 900 delegates attended the Tour this year, hearing from our professionals about the developments and changes coming up within the next few months – not least the newly-released bksbLIVE 2 platform.

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Tough exam targets for 'coasting schools'

30 June 2015


Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, has stated that schools in England are set to face tougher exam targets.

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What Will a Conservative Majority Government Mean for Secondary Education?

12 May 2015

Voting Image

With a newly elected majority Government in power, change is likely to take place across the UK, and the education sector is sure to see some transformation. This article will take a look at some of the policies that are likely to come into effect regarding English and maths and the secondary sector, and the people who will enforce them.

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Difficulty in Recruiting English & Maths Staff Expressed in ETF Survey

30 April 2015

ETF LogoOver a third of Work Based Learning Providers have difficulty recruiting staff to teach Functional Skills according to the Education and Training Foundation’s (ETF) annual Workforce Survey. The results show that difficulty in finding and employing English and maths tutors is more widespread than in other subject areas.

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Education and Training Foundation Report shows Functional Skills are Valued

25 March 2015

The Education and Training Foundation Logo

Functional Skills are valuable qualifications according to research from the Education and Training Foundation. The ‘Making Maths and English Work for All’ review engaged with 1395 individuals including employers, learners and practitioners, asking for opinions and concerns regarding non-GCSE English and maths provision.

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FE Week Reports on The Skills Conference 2015

11 March 2015

Ofsted's Marina Gaze speaking at The Skills Conference 2015.FE Week has reported the wide range of issues and topics raised at The Skills Conference 2015, which was held in Leicester last week (Tuesday 3 March). A number of high profile educationalists spoke at the event, including Marina Gaze from Ofsted, who highlighted the fact that low numeracy and literacy levels is not just an issue for learners.

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The Skills Conference 2015 attracts 400 education professionals

06 March 2015

bksb Managing Director Harvinder Atwal speaking at The Skills Conference.

The Skills Conference returned for a seventh year on Tuesday (3 March) at The King Power Stadium in Leicester.

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bksb Selected as Education Resources Awards 2015 Finalist

16 February 2015

bksb selected as Education Resources Awards FinalistFor the second time this academic year, bksb has been selected as a finalist for a prestigious industry accolade. The Education Resources Awards (ERAs), held annually, celebrate outstanding suppliers and individuals from the UK’s education sector, and our market-leading solution for Functional Skills and GCSE English and Maths has made the grade in the ‘Whole Curriculum Resource (including ICT)’ category.

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bksb Training Centre Opens in India

29 January 2015

Skills Anytime Training Centre Launch Event in India.bksb opened a brand new training centre in Chandigarh, India on Thursday 15 January. Led by Harvinder Atwal, Managing Director of bksb, and Dame Asha Khemka, Principal of West Nottinghamshire College, the launch was attended by a number of educational practitioners from the surrounding areas.

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Employers to be in Control of Apprenticeship Funding

16 January 2015

Nick BolesThe Government have published their response to the ‘Future of Apprenticeships in England: Funding Reform Technical Consultation’ which proposes giving direct control of apprenticeship funding to employers, although the most effective way to achieve this has not yet been set upon.

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Qualifications should remain "as stable as possible"

13 November 2014

Glenys Stacey

Qualifications should remain “as stable as possible”, Ofqual Chief Glenys Stacey has warned Skills Minister Nick Boles.

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bksb Selected as Bett Awards 2015 Finalist

13 November 2014

bksb Selected as Bett Awards FinalistIt is with immense pride that we’re able to announce that bksb has been selected as a Bett Awards Finalist for 2015. Our outstanding solution for Functional Skills and GCSE English and Maths was a successful entrant into the ‘Best Whole Course Subject Curriculum Resource’ category.

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Dame Asha Khemka Wins GG2 Leadership Award

12 November 2014

Dame Asha KhemkaDame Asha Khemka, Principal and Chief Executive of West Nottinghamshire College Group, has added a GG2 Leadership Award to her growing list of honours. Prime Minister David Cameron presented Dame Asha with the award for ‘Woman of the Year’ on Wednesday 5 November.

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No Change in Funding for Students Lacking GCSE English and Maths C Grades

04 November 2014

News on Education FundingThe Education Funding Agency (EFA) have confirmed that there will be no change in the funding rates for learners without a good pass in GCSE English or GCSE Maths in 2015/16. Organisations will receive £480 per subject for these disadvantaged students, providing they’re full-time students. Equivalent reduced rates will be applied for part-time students without a C grade in English or maths. The announcement, made by Peter Mucklow the EFA’s Director for young people, implies that individuals with low levels of English and maths remain a priority for the government. 

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Functional Skills Qualifications Are Important Says Skills Minister

07 October 2014

Skills MinisterSkills Minister Nick Boles has described Functional Skills qualifications as ‘important’ at a recent event organised to coincide with the Conservative Party Conference. Mr Boles also indicated that he aims to work in collaboration with Ofqual to improve the qualifications, and the way they are branded.

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Just 3% will obtain highest grade in new GCSE English and Maths

15 September 2014

New GCSE Maths and EnglishAccording to Ofqual, just 3% of pupils will obtain the highest grade when the new GCSE English and Maths exams are introduced in 2017. It is intended that having a small number of students that achieve ‘Grade 9’ will help to provide greater differentiation between the best results.

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The Skills Conference 2015: Save The Date

03 September 2014

The Skills Conference 2015 LogoWe’re delighted to announce that on 3 March 2015, The Skills Conference will return for its seventh year. Six months ago almost 350 delegates attended The Skills Conference 2014 and in 2015, the event is set to be even bigger, and better.

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Nick Clegg Joins Dame Asha Khemka in India Visit as bksb India HQ Opens

02 September 2014

India Trade DelegationDeputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Dame Asha Khemka, Principal and Chief Executive of West Nottinghamshire College Group, were part of a Trade Delegation visiting India last week. The party of 40 influential Government and education figures were investigating opportunities highlighted by India’s new Government and their focus on economic growth. During the visit, the new bksb India head office was officially declared ‘open for business’.

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New Ofsted Chairman Announced

31 July 2014

Ofsted LogoThe Department for Education has announced the new chairman of Ofsted as David Hoare, a man appointed for his vast business experience. Mr Hoare is currently a trustee of academy chain AET, after being brought in to help reverse a slide in its performance, and will take up his new post at the UK’s education regulator in September.

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Cabinet reshuffle sees Nicky Morgan become the new Education Secretary

15 July 2014

Nicky Morgan

Loughborough MP Nicky Morgan has replaced Michael Gove as the new Education Secretary.

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Nick Boles replacing Matthew Hancock as Skills Minister

15 July 2014

Nick Boles

Earlier today it was confirmed that Conservative MP Nick Boles would be taking on a joint role at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Department for Education (DfE).

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School leavers to be forced to retake GCSE English and maths if they achieve less than a C Grade

03 July 2014

GCSE ExaminationSchool leavers who fail to achieve a grade C or above in English and maths will be made to continue studying the subjects until they are 18, starting from September. The announcement was made by Matthew Hancock MP and is part of the Government’s drive to improve maths and English standards.

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New A Level to Raise Maths Standards

30 June 2014

A Level StudentsA new ‘Core Maths’ A Level is due to be released in September in order to encourage progression with maths after learners leave school. The qualification will be based on ‘real life’ maths such as financial investments and population growth, and will prepare pupils for careers in business, computing, geography, manufacturing and nursing. 

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Celebrations begin for Adult Learners' Week

16 June 2014

Adult Learners' WeekToday sees the start of Adult Learners’ Week – an annual celebration of adult education organised by NIACE. Now in its 23rd year, Adult Learners’ Week is a chance to raise awareness of lifelong learning opportunities and appreciate the success stories of people who increase their skills set and change their lives.

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Ofsted to make unannounced visits to schools

10 June 2014

Ofsted LogoThe government have announced their intention to commission snap Ofsted inspections. The move comes in response to the allegations of extremism in a number of secondary schools.

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Government to pilot new funding model for Apprenticeships

05 June 2014

ApprenticeThe government has announced the launch of a new pilot funding scheme for Apprenticeships. Under the new scheme employers will pay a third of the cost to train an apprentice, with public funding covering the remaining 67%.

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The Department for Business Innovation and Skills, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Deputy Prime Minister's Office visit bksb

22 May 2014

VisitOn Thursday 15 May, officials from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, Department for Work and Pensions and Deputy Prime Minister's Office visited bksb to hear how the company has grown from its humble beginnings at West Nottinghamshire College through to the present day, as well as see the company’s goals for the future.

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Employers to Rate Skills Training and Education

30 April 2014

Employer Rating ProviderEmployers have been given the chance to rate skills training and education by Ofsted, in a move to increase employer engagement within the sector.

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Independent Survey Proves that bksb is the UK's Number One Functional Skills Solution

14 April 2014

bksb iPadAccording to recently released figures, bksb is the most popular solution for English and maths within FE Colleges. In fact, the independent survey shows that bksb have more college customers than all other competitors put together.

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Significant Grant for New Adult Maths and English Research Facility

11 April 2014

BIS LogoThe Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has pledged a grant of £2.9 million for a new Adult Literacy and Numeracy Centre. The announcement was made at the latest BIS Select Committee Hearing by Skills Minister Matthew Hancock.

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Functional Skills a 'Stepping Stone': Surprising Decision?

25 March 2014

Tutor and StudentsWith the amount of data that has been published in the past few months relating to the levels of English and maths in Great Britain, many educational practitioners seem disgruntled with the government’s decision to label Functional Skills qualifications as a ‘stepping stone’ and the announcement that GCSEs will replace them in the apprenticeship framework from 2017.

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Add 'Flexibility and Functionality' to GCSEs

24 March 2014

Tutor and StudentsEnglish and maths GCSEs need more flexibility and functionality according to the head of careers guidance at Ofsted. Karen Adriaanse made the comments during the House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee’s second session on adult literacy and numeracy.

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Chinese Teachers to Raise Standards of Maths in England

12 March 2014

Learners Studying ImageAs many as 60 teachers from Shanghai will be brought to England in order to raise standards of maths, the Department for Education has announced.

The teachers will head up 30 centres of excellence where they will deliver maths masterclasses. 

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The Skills Funding Statement 2013-2016: How does it Relate to Functional Skills?

26 February 2014

SFA LogoThe Skills Funding Statement is published annually and depicts the funding and budgetary priorities of the government for the FE and skills sector. This instalment relates to the 2014-2015 financial year.

Following the release of the Skills Funding Statement 2013-2016, we have pulled together some of the most important information with regards to Functional Skills.

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Chinese teachers are 'more effective' than those in Britain, says the education minister

25 February 2014

Student Studying Image

The Education Minister, Liz Truss claims that Britain must not make excuses for falling behind countries such as China, but bring their teaching methods into British schools.

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Business, Innovation and Skills Committee Investigate UK Adult Literacy and Numeracy

17 February 2014

Adult English and Maths ImageFollowing last year’s survey by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee is scrutinising the standards of adult English and maths. Evidence suggests that England and Northern Ireland are falling behind many countries in terms of literacy and numeracy levels.

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Number of Apprenticeship Vacancies rise, but there are still twelve applications for each position.

10 February 2014

Apprentice ImageNational Apprenticeship Service figures from the start of the academic year show that there are, on average, twelve applicants for every apprenticeship advertised in the UK. Despite a 24% rise in openings for the same period the previous year, apprenticeship vacancies are still massively oversubscribed.

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Upgrade Your Skills or Lose Your Benefits - Labour

26 January 2014

Training PeopleJobseekers Claimants who lack basic English, maths and ICT skills should be made to take up training or lose their benefits, Labour says.

The logic behind the calls stem from the fact that poor Functional Skills levels of many jobseekers are stopping them from getting work.

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bksb @ Bett 2014

21 January 2014

Bett LogoBett is the world’s largest exhibition for learning technology and attracts thousands of visitors every year. This year there are more seminars and conferences than ever before, with bespoke CPD accredited summits and ‘Learn Live’ theatres, in addition to a busy Arena programme and numerous networking opportunities.

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Asha Khemka awarded Damehood in New Year's Honours

08 January 2014

Dame Asha KhemkaThe Principal of West Nottinghamshire College has been appointed a Dame in the New Year's Honours list. 

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Thousands of teenagers do not achieve a pass grade in GCSE English and maths

12 November 2013

Examinations ImageTens of thousands of teenagers in England do not have at least a C-grade at GCSE in English and maths by the time they are 18, new figures suggest. The figures are revealed in the new government statistics. From now on, all teenagers will have to continue studying maths and English if they do not get at least a C-grade.

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Pupils who do not achieve good GCSEs in English and maths must continue to study the subjects in post-16 education

03 October 2013

GCSE post-16 educationThe Department for Education have announced that all pupils who fail to achieve a good pass - C or better - in English or maths GCSE by the time they finish secondary school must continue to study the subjects in post-16 education until they get these qualifications. From 2015, this will impact all young people up to the age of 18, as a raised 'participation age' means they must remain in some form of education or training.

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A recent OECD study shows that there are 8.5 million adults in England and Northern Ireland with the numeracy level of 10-year-old

01 October 2013

ExamA major study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows how England's 16 to 24-year-olds are falling behind their Asian and European counterparts.

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Personal Learning and Thinking Skills (PLTS) attainment will be a requirement for apprentices

09 September 2013

Apprentice Studying PLTSThe Skills Funding Agency, Department for Education and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills have outlined that an intermediate level apprenticeship framework must specify that an apprentice must achieve the standards of attainment set out in the Personal Learning and Thinking Skills (PLTS) national outcomes.

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Government sets out plans to reform Apprenticeship funding

06 September 2013

Apprenticeship funding reformThe Department for Education and The Department for Business Innovation and Skills are reviewing the current funding arrangements for Apprenticeships in England with a view to making a reform in funding.

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New City and Guilds qualifications for English and maths

01 August 2013

City and Guilds qualificationsCity and Guilds have launched two new qualifications, which act as stepping stones for learners who wish to progress on to a functional skills qualification.

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FE Teacher and Trainer qualifications review 2013

02 July 2013

FE Teacher and Trainer ReviewOne of the main recommendations from the interim report of the Independent Review of Professionalism led by Lord Lingfield, was a review of the FE and Skills teaching qualifications. This review was led by LSIS, working collaboratively with the sector. LSIS worked with awarding organisations, higher education institutions, employer membership bodies and other stakeholders to develop guidance notes for the new teaching qualifications.


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