Skills for Life? or Life Skills?: an Analysis of the Importance of Key and Functional Skills Policy to Support Lifelong Learning

Critically analyse an aspect of policy related to lifelong and work related learning.   Evaluate the extent to which this has been able to support lifelong learning and / or work related learning

Skills for life? or life skills? : An analysis of the importance of key and functional skills policy to support lifelong learning


A recent study showed that at least one third of students will leave school without the either a GCSE in English, Maths or Information technology (Letch, 2006), or the knowledge of how to communicate effectively, work out a simple maths equation or design a spread sheet (Hodgson et al., 2007). It has been criticised as a failing of the compulsory education system, and Further Education practitioners are often left picking up the pieces (Letch, 2006). To declare that all students should be leaving compulsory education with the knowledge of how to format a letter sounds like an achievable prospect, however, this is not always the case (Circelli et al. 2011). Students learn in different ways, and different educational establishments will have different ways of dealing with this. It has been argued that the current curriculum in GCSE English and Maths does not always support the requirements that students will need to develop skills that are ‘functional’ (Myhill, 1999).

In July 2001, the then Secretary of State confirmed a wish to see key skill programmes offered to all post-16 learners (DfES, 2001). Key skills were defined as generic and transferable skills that people can learn and develop on a wide range of situations, for example, alongside a vocational diploma or in the work place (Kelly, 2001). Originally when the policy regarding the embedding of key skills was introduced there were three main key skills, these included: Communication; Application of Number and Information Technology. There was is also three Wider Key Skills in Working with others, improving own learning and performance and Problem Solving....