Basic skills

Basic skills are the key skills you need in study and life, and include Maths, English and ICT
Young woman reading among alphabet blocks

Basic skills are very important. Everyone needs them. These are  skills like reading, writing, number skills and computer skills that we use every day. You may hear them called Skills for Life. We also use these skills to learn other skills. You need them:

  • To live on your own or look after your home
  • To get a job, and stay in employment
  • To look after your family and possessions

Basic skills are used by adults every day.

Crucial: If you do not gain Maths and English GCSE at grade C or above (5 or above on the new grading system), you will need to carry on studying towards gaining your Maths and English qualifications post-16 as part of your study programme.

Building basic skills

You build your basic skills from a very early age. As soon as you start to read, write and learn, you are building basic skills. You learn your basic skills in all lessons, and during other activities, like work experience. But there are also key qualifications you take which prove that you have good enough basic skills. The most important of these are taken in Year 11:

  • Maths GCSE
  • English GCSE

These are very important qualifications. If you gain a grade C or above you will have more training and learning options, but there are opportunities for everyone. 

Crucial: Although lots of apprenticeships require GCSE Maths and English at Grade C or above, other opportunities (including some apprenticeships) may not. There are flexible learning solutions suitable for everyone available from local training providers.

Level 1 skills are the same as a GCSE at D–G (4-1 on the new grading system)

Level 2 skills are the same as a GCSE at A*-C (9-5 on the new grading system)

Crucial: GCSE grades are changing from letter grades A*-G to letter grades 9-1. A "good pass" will be grade 9-5.

Beyond basic skills

Basic skills are the tools we use to learn other things. They:

  • help us understand
  • help get a job
  • help deal with money better
  • help make us feel good about ourselves

Post-16, young people keep building basic skills, but this is usually done as part of other learning. Adults continue to learn and build their skills at work.

Take Action: Find out about Post-16 opportunities in Oxfordshire.

Strengthen your skills

Lots of adults and learners of all ages take time to improve their skills. There are lots courses and other ways to learn. You can visit BBC Skillswise online to learn useful tips on basic skills like:

  • writing a letter
  • filling in a form
  • spelling
  • reading
  • speaking and listening

You can also watch videos, play games and quizzes and choose the right level of help for you.

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