Skills for life teacher Functional skills teacher

Skills for life teachers work with adults and sometimes 16 to 18-year-olds to improve their English and maths.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £19,000 to £27,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll need a minimum of a Level 3 qualification in the subject area you wish to teach, like A level maths to teach numeracy. 

You’ll also need a teaching qualification and a specialist diploma like:

  • Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training 
  • Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training with specialist pathway 
  • Level 5 integrated specialist diploma.

If you have a degree, you can take a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) or a professional graduate diploma in education (PGDE) in teaching disabled adults, literacy, ESOL, combined literacy with ESOL or numeracy. 

If you don’t have a degree, you can take the certificate in education (Cert Ed) or the professional diploma in education (PDE).

When applying for any of these qualifications, colleges, universities and private training providers will assess your skills and knowledge in English, maths and ICT. 

If you don’t already have a minimum of a level 2 qualification in all these subjects, you’ll be given the opportunity to get these during your teacher training.

You may be eligible for a training bursary if you are looking to specialise in teaching maths, English or special educational needs.

You’ll also need clearance from the Disclosure and Barring Service.

FE Advice has more information on the qualifications needed.

The Education & Training Foundation and the Excellence Gateway website also have more information on literacy, numeracy and ESOL teaching.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • the ability to get on well with people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities and understand their needs
  • record keeping skills
  • patience and tact when working with those who may lack confidence
  • planning skills and creativity to prepare interesting activities to improve learners' skills
  • the ability to motivate and encourage learners to continue with their studies

3. What you'll do

You’ll teach and support adults and young people who want to improve their skills in:

  • reading, writing and spelling (literacy)
  • maths (numeracy), or 
  • ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages)

You might also work with adults with learning difficulties and disabilities.

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • carrying out skills assessments
  • talking to students about what they want to achieve
  • designing learning plans to suit the needs and abilities of students
  • preparing teaching materials
  • using a range of resources like worksheets and computer packages
  • delivering individual and group teaching sessions
  • keeping records
  • guiding and supporting learning support assistants and volunteers

4. Salary

Starter: £19,000 to £22,000

Experienced: £23,000 to £26,000

Highly Experienced: £27,000 or more

Your starting salary will depend on your experience, qualifications, and whether you’re employed in a further education college, a charity or a private training provider.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You could work full-time or part-time. 

As a part-time teacher you may only have a temporary contract. 

As a full-time teacher you’ll usually work up to 37 hours a week, with around 25 hours spent teaching.

Evening work is common.

You could be based in a college or an adult education centre and spend some of your time teaching in community centres, libraries or prisons. 

You could also work for a training provider helping people to improve their skills as preparation for employment.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, there may be opportunities to progress to more senior roles and higher pay scales.

You could be promoted to head of department, or move into training other teachers.

Last updated: 03 October 2016