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English course "FUNCTIONAL SKILLS" - basic information

UK Language Schools
Date added
14 June 2024

Thank you for your interest in the free English course "Functional Skills". This course is for individuals who are at least 19 years old but have not yet reached an adequate level of English proficiency in writing, reading, comprehension, or speaking for everyday life and work.

The course is taught at levels ranging from beginner (Entry Level 1, Entry Level 2) to intermediate (Entry Level 3) and advanced levels (Level 1, Level 2). Upon completion of the course, a "Functional Skills" certificate recognized throughout the UK is awarded.

The Functional Skills course consists of two modules:

  • English (which includes Speaking & Listening, Reading, Writing)
  • Maths (mathematics)

Maths?! Don’t be afraid of this word – it’s really about understanding English vocabulary related to mathematics in everyday life, from simple concepts like length, width, and area.

Imagine you are buying carpet in an English store for your home with an area of 50m². Do you know how to say 'area' in English? How about 'length' and 'width'? Do you know how to say that a room is square or rectangular in English? For example, do you know what the result of 5 TAKEAWAY 2 = is?

For more advanced students, this is obvious, and they will cover different vocabulary in class, such as what is needed for office work, but beginners need to know these basic words – and this is included in the Maths section. Example exam questions from the lowest level (Entry 1 Maths) can be found in this link. Very simple, isn’t it – as long as we understand the questions.

The course at the highest levels (Level 1 and Level 2) is equivalent to the GCSE levels and qualifies for doing, for example, vocational courses (apprenticeships), college courses, or certain university courses – for instance, the Open University in London accepts Level 2 Functional Skills. The table comparing levels and requirements from the Open University can be found in this link:

In most UK job advertisements requiring qualifications above the minimum, it is often required to have either an appropriate level of English & Maths or GCSEs, and you will see this phrase in the requirements section: English and maths GCSEs or equivalent.

For those who want to compare Functional Skills qualifications to GCSEs or European certificates like A1, A2 or B1, B2 – the table below will help compare levels.

  • Functionall Skills: Entry Level 1
    Common European Framework: A1
  • Functionall Skills: Entry Level 2
    Common European Framework: A2
  • Functionall Skills: Entry Level 3
    Common European Framework: B1
  • Functionall Skills: Level 1
    Common European Framework: B2
    GCSE: Grades D to G
  • Functionall Skills: Level 2
    Common European Framework: C1
    GCSE: Grades A to C

To prove your knowledge of English for British citizenship - you can only use English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) qualifications if they’re on the list of approved tests. You cannot use other qualifications, for example GCSEs, A levels or National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs). However, if you pass the Functional Skills course at Entry Level 3, you should be ready to take a B1 exam for British citizenship.


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