Functional Skills

Providing learners with the essential qualifications.

Functional Skills have been designed by employers to contextualise maths and English content to help learners apply these skills in real-life work settings. Functional skills are a compulsory requirement for all apprentices who do not hold a GSCE or equivalent qualification in English or maths.

Learners who have not achieved a pass at Level 2, a ‘C’ grade or grade 4 at GCSE (or equivalent) will need to enrol on and complete the relevant functional skills qualification to achieve their apprenticeship. This is a government requirement.

Acceptable Equivalent Qualifications for Maths and English

Valid exemption certificates will need to be provided by learners to the compliance team within 4 weeks of enrolling on their apprenticeship programme. Learners that fail to provide evidence, (or at least confirmation of payment for replacement certificates etc.) are then enrolled onto the functional skills programme and are expected to work towards the qualifications.

Please see the following link for a list of acceptable exemption documents.

Learners who hold overseas qualifications which they believe to be equivalent or higher than a GCSE grade C or grade 4, are required to apply for a statement of comparability to translate the qualification and compare this to its UK counterpart.

Click here to visit the ENIC website to apply for a statement of comparability.

If you wish for Pareto to make this application on your behalf, please contact the functional skills lead in the first instance (

Functional Skills - English

The Level 2 Functional Skills - English course has been designed to equip learners with the confidence, fluency and accuracy in the following areas: reading, writing, and speaking, listening and communication.

These three components are assessed through written and oral assessments and should provide underpinning knowledge, to help learners to communicate effectively within the workplace.

The overall recommended duration of the course is 55 hours. However, this is circumstantial depending on the current ability of the learner.

The speaking, listening and communication assessment consists of two tasks; a presentation followed by a discussion. The assessment is marked internally and learners are given adequate time and resources to prepare.

The reading and writing assessments are marked externally and are largely completed through online examination software. Learners use our BKSB platform, specialist teaching resources and the support from tutors to help prepare for these assessments.

Click Here to see the government qualification standards for Functional Skills – English.

Click Here to find out more information about ‘SkillsFirst’ the Examination board used for Functional Skills. You can also find example of practice assessments through this link.

Functional Skills - Mathematics

The Level 2 Functional Skills - Mathematics qualification aims to develop the underpinning, practical and problem-solving skills that are used in life, study and work.

The three main areas of subject content consist of:

  • Number
  • Measure, Shape & Space
  • Statistics & Data

These are assessed in a two-hour exam where both non-calculator and calculator skills are tested.

Click Here to see the government qualification standards for Functional Skills – Mathematics.

Click Here to find out more information about ‘SkillsFirst’ the Examination board used for Functional Skills. You can also find example of practice assessments through this link.

Support At Pareto

Pareto provides a range of teaching and learning methods to prepare you to achieve the functional skills qualifications. In addition to an online teaching platform, you will have access to a variety of resources to suit your learning style, and also a dedicated functional skills coach to support you throughout your learning journey.

Success Stories

"I’m currently completing a Team Leader Level 3 Apprenticeship with Pareto. As part of this it is required to undertake the Functional Skills in English and Maths.  At first, I was a bit unsure of some of the topics and how best to progress but once I started working with Kate Roffey everything fell into place.

It’s been a long time since I last used Maths formulas, doing long division and multiplication. Kate very quickly helped me on how to approach specific problems.  She also helped me to think about English in terms of audience and purpose, which really helped me to make quick progress with the skills courses.

If you are in a similar position with regards to your Maths and English, I really recommend taking up the one-to-one support by a functional skills coach."

- Tom Winterburn, Team Leader Level 3 Apprenticeship


Our functional skills achievements for academic year 20/21 are:

Functional Skills External Assessments  

First Time Pass Rate  

Overall Pass Rate  

Maths L1



Maths Level 2



Reading Level 2



Writing Level 2



*This information was updated 14/09/2021

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