What are Functional Skills?

Functional Skills are the fundamental ENGLISH, MATHS and ICT skills that people need for their working and personal lives. People can study for the qualifications in practical ways and apply core skills to real-life situations. Successive governments have championed these flexible courses to equip people with the essential skills they need to succeed.

English and maths are essential subjects that are included in most training and education programmes. They are a required component of Diplomas, Foundation Learning Programmes and Apprenticeships. Functional Skills can be studied as stand-alone qualifications or as a stepping stone to GCSEs.

Functional skills are practical skills in English, mathematics and information and communication technology (ICT) that allow individuals to operate confidently, effectively and independently in life and work.

Department for Education and Skills

Functional Skills Levels

Entry Level 1
Entry Level 2
Entry Level 3
Level 1
Level 2

As an approximate comparison:

  • Entry Level 1 – 3 is below GCSE level
  • Level 1 is comparable to GCSE grades 1 – 3, and
  • Level 2 is comparable to GCSE grade 4.


Functional Skills assessments are graded as either a ‘pass’ or ‘fail’. There are no proxies and no portfolio elements for these qualifications. All Entry Level examinations are paper based. They are assessed internally and are moderated by the centre.
Both Level 1 and Level 2 can be taken online or as a paper exam. Online exams can be taken on demand, but paper assessments must be taken during weeks set by the awarding body. Level 1 and Level 2 are externally assessed and carried out in exam conditions at the assessment centre.

Some students often wonder why they need to do English, maths and ICT when they are taking a more vocational, practical course or career path. These subjects are, in fact, vitally important in almost any path you have chosen.

Focus Functional Skills is your own online resource, built to help learners improve the skills needed for their qualifications. Our package of assessment and development identifies a suitable start point and pathway, and then supports the teaching of vital skills. It’s designed to help prepare learners for the exams through a series of guided learning support and revision resources.

Our Initial Assessment provides a tool for tutors to identify a learner’s working level. The Diagnostic Assessment then provides an analysis of a learner’s strengths and weaknesses. This data gives tutors the key information needed to begin to track a learner’s journey.

Our resources, skills check and revision scenario help learners to improve their English and maths skills. They can be used in a class situation or via distance learning. Tutors can track a learner’s progress through their individual programme.

LBD created the original process for the assessment and development of basic and key skills science started functional program. As they have evolved into what we now recognise as Functional Skills, we have been at the forefront of understanding exactly what is required to ensure learners are prepared to pass their qualifications. We also invest a great deal of time in helping tutors, managers, and organisations to maximise the provision that they offer to their learners. Along with the help and support you can find on this site, and on our eLearning platform.

And finally…

Our friendly team are always here to help. Whether you are a LBD customer or not, please never hesitate to get in touch if we can be of any help. We would love to hear from you.

English & Maths level support available

  • Access to our content in a unique programme catered to your individual needs, available 24/7 on all devices
  • Email contact – email correspondence with a tutor if you get stuck
  • One-to-one tutorials with a fully qualified tutor
  • A marked mock paper with feedback
  • Phone support, call a tutor when you need them*
  • Exam centre guidance – helping you to find a place to take your exam

Our Teachers