As the gloomy winter skies loom over, we thought: what better way to brighten our day than to have a quick catch up with the always cheerful Paul Thornton, Qualification and Assessment Manager.

In a previous blog, we spoke to Paul when he was first starting at TQUK and we discussed what plans he had for our intended adventure into the Functional Skills provision. Now equipped with a desk plant and Manchester United coffee mug (a gift from him designated TQUK Birthday Buddy), Paul’s quickly made himself at home.

With a cinnamon roll and his highly favoured (and highly flavoured) spiced chai latte, Paul sat down to talk all things Functional Skills.

“Our functional skills journey has been enlightening,” Paul told us. “This is something I’ve done previously but it’s been nice to revisit with a wiser and more mature mind. It’s been great engaging with all members of staff because each department – Qualifications and Assessments especially – have had a massive input into this project.”

This necessary and positive exchange has allowed relationships to be built both internally and beyond, covering all types of stakeholders, including recognised centres and former Learners.

“Centres and their Learners are at the heart of what we do. That’s why, when looking to shape our Functional Skills offer, I reached out in every way possible, and towards anyone I could think of.”

Paul added, “We gave our network of recognised centres four ways to feedback their delivery needs and we’re grateful all avenues were explored to help shape our response. We were able to interview a number of key providers to really dig into the detail, see what works and, more importantly, what doesn’t.”

This feedback was instrumental in Paul’s big decision; one he knows to be clearly rooted in and informed by the needs of our many centres.

“Following all this feedback, and a huge amount of effort in response, I am delighted to announce we have submitted an application to develop, deliver and award Functional Skills qualifications in English and Maths at Level 1 and Level 2 for both subjects.”

Developing the qualifications was eye-opening for many within the TQUK office. It brought to life the importance of ensuring that we – from a personal perspective – maintain the fundamental knowledge in such subjects.

Paul said, “It brings into focus the importance of being equipped with essential knowledge and skills. Without sustenance and support, this knowledge, and those skills and behaviours can be lost.”

The excitement of submission didn’t stop there. Paul has continued working beyond the submission to ensure the qualification administration, delivery and assessment experience will always support our centres and learners in the best way possible.

“The qualifications, as we all know, are firmly set in terms of deployment and assessment. From an operational, administrative, and customer-service position, however, we’ll do more to support our centres.” Paul stated.

“Our recognised centres will benefit from straightforward, up-front pricing structures, well-established online assessment platforms and the type of service they have come to expect from us.”

‘’At TQUK, even after 8 years of success, we’re still a company that focuses on doing things differently. Our prospective, emerging, and established centres will see this in the Functional Skills offer we put together. It will be as simple as 3,2,1.”

With thoughts of gloomy winter skies now feeling like a distant, foreign memory, Paul confirmed, “We hope to have more information early in the new year but, for now, I, along with all other TQUK members of staff involved in this, plan to finish the year on a high, as best we can in current circumstances.’