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.

Strengthen your skills

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 basic skills including functional 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.

How can I improve my skills? There are lots of places online where you can improve your skills and these include:

Find out more


Posted by Anwar Baig
Posted ago
Are basic skills and soft skills same?

Hello, thank you for your comment. No, soft skills and basic skills are not the same. Basic skills are things like maths, English and ICT, while soft skills are things like time management and teamworking. 

Posted by Laura Mason
Posted ago
I would like to stsrt basic skills on English and maths i don't have any GCSE and would need to start from very basic

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