Functional skills are practical skills in English, Maths and ICT that help learners gain the most out of work, education and everyday life.

They’ve been introduced to address government and employers’ concerns over raising standards in basic literacy and numeracy for learners of all ages. Functional skills are also a constituent of all 14–19 age learning programmes.

These important qualifications are also for adults, whether they are in work, training or preparing for work. They’re not just about acquiring the basic skills of reading, writing, arithmetic and using a computer, but are an essential stepping stone towards the higher goal of functionality – or being functional.

Functional skills qualifications were first introduced in 2007 as part of a three-year pilot programme to develop qualifications that would be suitable for all students. More than 3,000 centres, including schools and colleges, work-based learning centres and adult community learning centres have been involved in piloting these new qualifications.

Functional skills qualifications determine whether students can reproduce what they have learned (in English, Mathematics and ICT), but also how well they can extrapolate from what they have learned and apply that in novel settings and contexts. For example, students would have to demonstrate that they could use accurate spelling, grammar and punctuation to produce good quality correspondence or use their understanding of area to make an accurate value for money comparison.

The assessments are available from Entry level (1, 2 and 3) to Levels 1 and 2 in English, Mathematics and ICT through a variety of awarding organisations. 

This ensures that the assessments are sufficiently flexible to meet the needs of a wide range of organisations including schools, colleges, public and private sector organisations all offering Vocational study and Apprenticeships.

Functional skills assessments must

  • provide realistic contexts, scenarios and problems
  • specify tasks that are relevant to the context
  • require applications of knowledge, skills and understanding for a purpose
  • require problem solving
  • assess process skills and the outcome of their application in different contexts.

The programmes can be delivered class based. We may also look at a blended learning approach, some e-learning and some drop-in, class-based sessions.

End exam and assessment will be either paper based or computer based and can be taken in college or invigilated in the work base under exam conditions.

English (use of spellcheck and dictionary allowed)

2 hours for Reading and Writing

10-30 minutes for Speaking and Listening

Maths (use of calculator allowed)

1 hour – 30 minutes for end test, 3 tasks carrying 20 marks each task

Likely to be a 12 week block (for each subject) with an expectation of three hours dedicated work completion each week.

Dedicated release time needed of up to 3 hours per week. Classes will be held in employer bases.

Dependent upon demand, for whichever style of study, we will consider the following:

  • Class based at North West Boroughs Healthcare sites

  • Computer access at work, home or college