Evaluate a range of ways to embed elements of functional skills in your specialist area

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Functional Skills are the core elements of English, Maths and ICT tailored for use in real world situations that the students will meet on a daily basis. They are key to success in a working environment and pave the way to further learning. In all subjects, the ability for students to have an understanding of both English and Maths is imperative and now more than ever ICT is developing as a foundation within a large percentage of businesses. (DCSF, 2009)

In order to give the broadest access to all, as well as Level 1 and Level 2 qualifications, Functional Skills will also be available as Foundation, Higher and Advanced Diplomas, or in the place of the Key Skills qualifications. They will also be embedded within the apprenticeship frameworks. Apart from being highly important for adult further education, they are central to the Government’s 14-19 education reform. (QCDA 2009)

Within my chosen subject of Music Technology, a good understanding of the Functional Skills is essential. At its most basic, a student will have to count 4 beats to a bar, from that they can then count the changes on the 16th or the 32nd bar. Their understanding of ICT and English would develop through having to name parts within a composition and being introduced to new techniques. Geoff Petty suggests teaching new vocabulary in groups aids learning (Petty, 1998). By utilising the VAK system of learning, students will be able to see, hear, put in to practise and reflect on what they have learnt, there by retaining a far greater amount than if they had just be explained a process (Kolb, 1984)

At higher levels, students will have a greater understanding of Functional Skills if they where to successfully consider releasing their own music. In an assignment based on this, they would have to work out a business plan which would include financial costing and written content. The student would need a good understanding of Maths and English, as well as knowledge of various software packages. However, consideration would need to be made for differentiation between students who have a more musical background and those who are more academic. Geoff Petty points out that in a class of ‘mixed ability’ students, it is better to choose open tasks, allowing them to explore various possibilities, as opposed to closed tasks, as this suits both the able and moderately able students alike. (Petty, 1998)

The University of Liverpool states that Functional/Key Skills are viewed as implicit rather than explicit and would not be assessed separately from the other component with a Music Degree (University of Liverpool 2009).

By analysing the individual elements of Functional Skill within Music Technology, it soon becomes apparent that they are embedded in all stages and allow the student to learn and develop their skills within an environment that they can understand.

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