AlphaPlus - Supporting awarding organisations

Functional Skills Services

Authoring of Live Examination Papers

Accreditation can be achieved by a single experienced author in each subject. Live delivery requires a team of authors.

Our experience is that writers often require development and support over an extended period of time as they become accustomed to producing complex Functional Skills papers.

AlphaPlus offers two services in this area:

  • A complete outsourcing of assessment development
  • A paper review and author mentoring service.

On-screen Delivery of Functional Skills

Stage:  Live Assessment Development

Description:  AlphaPlus has played a leading role in supporting several AOs and government agencies in planning, developing and rolling out e-assessments, including selecting technology suppliers. We have developed e-assessment tools for national programmes in all four home nations (for DfE, BIS, CCEA, SQA and DCELLS), and for many AOs.

Our team have the essential mix of subject, technical and educational backgrounds, with direct experience of a wide range of e-assessment approaches. This includes current experience of building world-class on-screen tests, including for Functional Skills.

Typical package:  The work here varies greatly from one setting to another. Please contact us for a quotation.

Paper Review and Author Mentoring

Stage:  Live Assessment Development

Description:  As an alternative to our assessment outsourcing service, we offer AOs support where they choose to develop, manage, and quality assure their own authors. This includes:

  • reviewing draft assessment scenarios, ensuring that they meet key Functional Skills criteria, including that:
    • the tasks are plausible, accessible to the target audience and clearly pass the ‘why would I do this?’ test
    • the level of familiarity and overall demand are appropriate for the level
    • the design provides sufficient scope for realistic tasks
  • reviewing style guide(s), review templates and test specifications to advise how they can best meet the Ofqual criteria
  • reviewing draft tests, mark schemes, etc. against the Functional Skills assessment design criteria, and checking assessment validity (test paper), reliability (mark scheme), and coverage and range
  • providing detailed, constructive criticism on how to improve the assessments to meet the Functional Skills criteria, including alternative approaches should re-work be required
  • running group workshops or working one to one with the AO authors to improve their paper and question writing, where necessary

Typical package:  £2,000 to £5,000 per subject.

Assessment Development

Stage:  Live Assessment Development

Description:  Authoring Functional Skills assessments can place considerable demands on management time and be correspondingly expensive. The Functional Skills criteria are complex, and the authoring process is more demanding than for almost any other assessment we have encountered. Typically, development timescales are required to be short while quality and review requirements are high. Each member of the team must be managed and supported through the life of the project.

AlphaPlus offers a full outsourcing service for the authoring of Functional Skills assessments.

This includes:

  • recruiting authors from our associate pool
  • developing and agreeing with the awarding organisation a style guide and review templates
  • producing all materials for live Functional Skills tests, including test papers, mark schemes, test specifications, images / data files, exemplars, support/pre-release materials, and coverage tracking sheets
  • attending and contributing to standardisation meetings

Typical package:  Costs depend on subject and delivery platform, but guideline costs per assessment are as follows:

  • English: £5,200 (includes reading, writing and SLC assessments)
  • Mathematics: £2,200
  • ICT: £2,325


For more information about our Functional Skills services, please contact Giilian Whitehouse:

Email Gillian

Phone: 07881 361718