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Functional Skills Support Programme

Introduction to the Functional Skills Support Programme (FSSP)

The Functional Skills Support Programme (FSSP) is designed to prepare practitioners, leaders and managers to support functional skills delivery, from developing applied learning to adopting a whole-organisation approach to functional skills implementation. The programme has been designed and is delivered in partnership with National Strategies (NS).

FSSP is available free to all schools and post-16 education and training centres and can contribute as part of continuous professional development training. Post-16 support covers colleges and independent training organisations, as well as secure estate and adult and community settings.

What’s new about FSSP?

The post-16 strand of FSSP has been refreshed, and was re-launched in September 2009. New features include:

  • Support that is more responsive to the specific needs of centres, ranging from standard CPD modules for those new to functional skills to bespoke training and also consultancy for centres that need more advice around what types of functional skills training they require.
  • A new dedicated programme website, acting as the first port of call for all FSSP-related information (
  • A refresh of existing resources, materials and training modules, and new publications/resources, being published over autumn-winter 2009.
  • New training modules, coming into action in the autumn. For example, “Managing and Delivering FS - Lessons from the pilot” is a new training module, available from autumn 2009.
  • New networks, including a Secure Estate network, are being developed to help encourage practitioner support and the sharing of best practice. Practitioners, leaders and managers can also sign up to regional network events.
  • A practitioner-led approach to support. This is through the recruitment of trainers working in the sector, and through development projects designed to disperse best practice and encourage knowledge sharing amongst practitioners.

The types of support available

Face-to-face support/training

The post-16 strand of the FSSP offers a range of in-house training modules, in addition to bespoke sessions and consultancy support.

Standard training – Updated modules are available free to centres, to support practitioners involved in delivering functional skills.

Bespoke training – We can arrange for bespoke training sessions; this is training tailored to meet the specific needs of your practitioners, leaders, managers or organisation.

Consultancy – An initial consultancy support session is also available for practitioners, leaders, managers and organisations. This can be flexible to suit your needs, but could include a functional skills review, whole organisation strategy for functional skills or to discuss an annual functional skills CPD plan.


The first phase of the site was launched in September 2009 and includes programme news, useful links, materials and resources. Website functionality will continue to be developed and features added over the winter. The site will also host online communities, where practitioners can share ideas and best practice, download and share resources and modules, and get advice from other practitioners.

Register now and add the site to your favourites. Check back regularly for new features.


A range of resources and publications is available on Many programme materials have been refreshed, and new materials are being released. For example, “FS in Secure Estate” is a publication that will be available in autumn 2009.

Development projects

FSSP supports a number of development projects, which are an integral part of the programme’s sector-led and sector-responsive approach.  The intention behind the projects is to encourage centres to work collaboratively to resolve issues of mutual concern in preparing for the roll out of functional skills in 2010. They also provide the opportunity to share work outcomes with the rest of the sector. The resources from development projects will be available in 2010.

Regional teams and network events

Nine regional functional skills teams are in place to provide local support for all post-16 centres. The teams lead the Functional Skills Support Programme in your region, operating from a local regional centre from where they coordinate training and consultancy support through regional facilitators as well as run a regional helpline. The regional teams also work to form links with other programmes and initiatives in the area to be part of a coherent range of support underpinning the 14-19 reforms.

Regional network events

The regional teams also run free termly network events. Network events provide practitioners and managers with the latest information available on functional skills and the national support programme for the final year of the pilot. They also provide an opportunity for practitioner networking and planning. If you attended one of the last network events you will automatically receive an invite to the next event in your region. If you did not attend the last event and would like to attend future events please send an email to your regional team using the contact details listed below. Dates for forthcoming network events can be found on

Where to go to get further information and support

The FSSP team is available to answer any functional skills related queries. This includes:

  • More information about the training and support on offer.
  • Booking training/support.
  • Questions related to functional skills or the FSSP.
  • Ordering materials and resources found on our website.

You can reach the FSSP West Midlands regional centre on 0121 678 7205 or

Helplines are open from 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday, excluding Public Holidays.

Further support can be found on

Functional skills support for schools

Functional skills support for schools is being administered by National Strategies, who can be reached on 0118 918 2820 or 0118 918 2830. Visit:

FSSP Documents

News Bulletins can be included as attachments.

Useful links


Excellence Gateway

The functional skills portion of the portal for practitioners at all levels within the learning and skills sector in England. Here you can access an unrivalled breadth of resources, inspire innovation and share good practice. The Excellence Gateway offers you support and advice, and opportunities to participate.

DCSF 14-19 pages

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)


SfL Improvement Programme

14-19 Workforce support website

The site is a one-stop shop designed for users to access all support under the 14-19 Reform. It provides easy access to all the websites and support programmes on offer, including the four learning routes. The page will become fully functional in January 2010 but can be accessed now to provide links through to other programmes. See

Diploma Support Programme

Foundation Learning Support Programme

Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF)

Key functional skills information and messages from the DCSF.