Functional Skills English

Our guide to Functional Skills English: government-backed English courses that are an alternative to GCSE English.

What is Functional Skills English?

Functional Skills English are English courses for people who would benefit from an alternative to GCSE English. The learning style in Functional Skills English is more focused on practical, real-life examples. There are five levels; entry level 1, 2 and 3, Level 1 and Level 2.

The level 2 English qualification is the the same as a GCSE English pass grade. (GCSE English 9 to 4 or A* to C in old GCSE grading system).

Functional Skills English helps people improve their English skills in practical ways. Functional Skills English questions use real-life examples and situations. They cover essential English skills including reading, writing and speaking.

Each of the five qualifications will help you develop English skills needed for work and day-to-day life.

Why choose Functional Skills English?

The most common reason to learn Functional Skills English is if you failed GCSE English.
Do you need to retake GCSE English? Are you unsure you’ll pass your GCSE English resit? Did you find GCSE English difficult or confusing?
Our Functional Skills English Level 2 online course might be the perfect course for you.
Especially if you wanted to retake GCSE English from home.
Functional Skills English Level 2 uses practical, real-life examples for the course, revision and final tests. Learn English with easy to understand, everyday examples. Improve your reading, writing and speaking skills.

A Functional Skills English Level 2 qualification might help you;

  • Apply for a job that requires GCSE English pass grade
  • Access Higher Education
  • Enrol on an apprenticeship*
  • Start a career in nursing, teaching, the fire service and many more
  • Enrol on a degree course at University
  • Improve your skills and confidence with day-to-day reading, writing and speaking tasks
  • Help your children with their English homework

*For some apprenticeships, you may only need Functional Skills English Level 1.

Do you need help with Functional Skills English? Start one of our Functional Skills English online courses with support from our English tutors.

Is Functional Skills English a recognised qualification?

Yes, it’s government backed, nationally recognised qualification. Accepted by many employers, education organisations and training companies as an alternative to a GCSE English pass grade. Functional Skills English qualifications are accredited by examining bodies including;

  • AQA
  • City & Guilds
  • NCFE
  • NOCN
  • OCR
  • Pearson

The curriculum for Functional Skills English is set by the government.

You’ll receive a Functional Skills English certificate for each English level you pass.

Functional Skills English Assessment

You’ll need to complete an initial assessment and diagnostic before starting your Functional Skills English course.

Functional Skills English Initial Assessment: this is an assessment of your English skills level. The result of the assessment will help decide which English level your course should start from.

Functional Skills English Diagnostic Test: this tests your strengths and weaknesses at your current English level. To help create your personal learning plan.

Functional Skills English Syllabus


Reading is an important part of everyday life. From reading instructions or emails at work, to reading bedtime stories to your children. We can help you improve your reading skills.


Is writing something you struggle with? Improving your writing skills will help make your life easier, at work and at home.

Grammar & Punctuation

Poor grammar and punctuation looks unprofessional and is difficult to read. Is your punctuation and grammar holding you back?


The devil is in the detail and spelling is no exception. A great C.V., work email or business plan with poor spelling will look unprofessional. Don’t rely on spellcheck, improve your spelling.


Trying to describe something is frustrating when you can’t find the right words. Expanding your vocabulary makes it easier to describe things and get your point across without getting tongue-tied.

Speaking and Listening

If you have your sights set on working in a management role, strong communication skills are crucial. Improve your listening and speaking skills on our Functional Skills English course.