Functional Skills Course – important info

Functional Skills contain the core elements of English and Mathematics.

Students who take these qualifications will develop the transferable skills needed in everyday life and at work.

Functional Skills – what are they?

Functional Skills involves studying contextualised and relevant scenarios to learn problem-solving skills in English and Mathematics.

They can be studied as stand-alone qualifications either part-time or full-time and are embedded into our GCSEs. They are a compulsory component of our BTEC Apprenticeships.

Functional Skills are accredited on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) and are offered at:

  • Entry levels 1, 2 and 3
  • Level 1
  • Level 2

Why take Functional Skills?

Functional Skills were designed to address the concerns of employers that many young people and adults lacked a firm understanding of basic English and Maths. Studying Functional Skills will help you develop the transferable skills you need in everyday life and at work.

What subjects can you study?

Functional Skills qualifications are available in English, Mathematics, and ICT. You can see what each course covers by reading the course details, which you can download from our Functional Skills specifications page.

How are Functional Skills graded?

Functional Skills qualifications are pass/fail qualifications (i.e., you aren’t given a grade).

How will I be assessed?

Each subject forms a separate qualification allowing students to pick different levels for each subject.


Functional Skills English is assessed through 3 units:

  • Unit 1: Speaking, Listening & Communication is assessed by your teacher and you have an opportunity to meet each criterion at least once, through formal and informal discussions.
  • Unit 2: Reading is assessed by an exam. At Levels 1 and 2, the exam is also available as an on-screen test.
  • Unit 3: Writing is assessed by an exam. At Levels 1 and 2, the exam is also available as an on-screen test.

Each unit contributes equally to your overall grade.


Functional Skills Mathematics is assessed through a single exam. At Levels 1 and 2, the exam is also available as an on-screen test.


Functional Skills ICT is assessed through a single exam at Levels 1 and 2. The exam will be printed on paper but is completed using a computer.

What is a pass in Functional Skills equivalent to?

Functional Skills qualifications are often compared to GCSEs. Rough equivalencies can be found in the table below:



Entry Level 1-3

Achievement is below GCSE level

Level 1

Half a GCSE  at grade D/E

Level 2

Half a GCSE at grade B

If you’re using your Functional Skills qualification to help you to get a job or to continue studying, it will be up to the employer or the school, college or training provider to judge whether your qualification meets their requirements.

Edexcel certificate

The Edexcel Level 1/Level 2 Certificates were developed in response to the government’s wish for all schools to have access to International GCSE-style qualifications. Our Edexcel Certificates incorporate the key features of the Edexcel International GCSE but are accredited for use in UK state schools. They’re taught linearly and assessed through written examinations, with no controlled assessment. 

Each Edexcel Certificate is equivalent to a GCSE or International GCSE in that subject. For example, the Edexcel Certificate in English has the same value as the GCSE in English. 


What can I do once I’ve taken Functional Skills?

Students who complete Functional Skills qualifications demonstrate they can apply their knowledge to solve problems in English, Mathematics, and ICT. This makes Functional Skills valuable when applying for a job.

Combining Functional Skills with other qualifications such as a BTEC Apprenticeship or GCSEs can open up a range of options for further study. For example, you could choose to study GCSEs, BTEC Firsts, an NVQ, a BTEC Apprenticeship or a mixture of these qualifications.

Check also:

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