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Level: Foundation (Level 1)Awarding Body: Edexcel

Why study functional skills in English?

Functional Skills in English is a course that enables students to continue to develop their skills in English in preparation to retake the GCSE English Language course in the following academic year. If a student has not been able to reach the required  grade 1 in GCSE English, it is important that they are given the opportunity to complete a course in Functional Skills to improve their long-term prospects of success on a future GCSE retake. Students will be able to improve their skills in reading, writing and speaking and listening and the aim is to achieve a pass in all units at Level 1 in order to progress onto the GCSE course.

What can it lead to?

A Level 1 pass grade in Functional Skills in English is essential for progression onto GCSE English Language. It is also an important qualification for progression in vocational and other courses at the college.

Functional Skills in English will enable students to feel more confident in demonstrating their abilities in reading, writing, speaking and listening, which will be of benefit both on other courses and in the workplace.

How is the course organised?

Exam Board: Edexcel

You will be required to complete 3 units:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking, Listening and Communication

Each of these units are equally weighted and you must successfully complete all 3 to successfully pass at Level 1.

How is the course assessed?

You will be examined using online testing when ready in both Reading and Writing.

You will be given an opportunity to sit the Level 1 online Reading examination from November and the Level 1 Writing paper from February. Both papers will have re sit opportunities throughout the year and are externally assessed.

You will also be required to participate in two Speaking, Listening and Communication activities, which will be assessed by your teacher. You will have to engage in one formal discussion and one 3 minute talk and linked question and answer session alongside your peers in the classroom. Discussions may be recorded to ensure assessments are accurately carried out.

What do I need to qualify for this course?

Generally students who have achieved a grade 1 or lower in GCSE English or GCSE English Language will qualify for this course. A real desire to improve upon your reading, writing and speaking and listening skills is essential to succeed. The ability to write good English and express yourself clearly to a variety of audiences is also required.

Functional Skills in English is an intensive and demanding course and you are expected to maintain good levels of attendance and punctuality to ensure achievement. In particular, it is essential that you attend the scheduled Reading and Writing examinations which will take place throughout the year as well as ensuring that you are present and fully participating in all required Speaking, Listening and Communication tasks.

You are required to provide your own stationery; all other materials will be provided.

Who are the teachers?

Your teachers on Functional Skills in English will be Ms Cotter (MCO) or Ms Lancaster (ELA) who have relevant higher education qualifications and teaching experience, particularly if you have English as a Second Language needs.  

Contact: Ms Cotter ( (FS Subject Lead) if you required more  more information.

What do students say about the course?

"The teachers are really supportive and really want you to do well. At the end of the year, when I passed, my teacher said she was very proud of me."

"Doing this course at St. Charles helped me to feel more ready to take on the GCSE English course."

“I really enjoyed the speaking and listening activities, even though I was nervous at first!” 

Extra Curricular

Useful course support can be found at the following website:

Where you will find useful practice activities and word games to help you improve your reading, writing and speaking and listening skills.