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Functional Skill Providers in North East, Yorkshire & Humber and North Cumbria

Functional Skill qualifications are designed for leaners that do not already possess a level 2 equivalent qualification in either Maths or English. Many colleges in England can provide functional skills free of charge to adult learners. The information presented here is intended to inform applicants of what functional skills are, the requirements to access them, what providers are available in their local area and how to apply.

What are Functional Skills?

Functional Skills are practical skills in English, Maths and ICT. Functional Skills provide an individual with essential knowledge, skills and understanding that will enable them to operate confidently, effectively, and independently in life and work. Functional Skills are important because they provide young people and adults with the skills, knowledge and understanding that they will need to progress and succeed in education, work and life. They are also an essential requirement in many job roles within the NHS including higher apprenticeships.

Working in conjunction with a range of providers, we have provided information on how to access up to level 2 Functional Skills in English and Maths. Level 2 FS’s are equivalent to a GCSE A*-C grade. You may need to complete level 1 prior to level 2, depending on the outcome of your Initial Assessment. There is support available for applicants with learning difficulties and disabilities.

What are the entry requirements?

  • Aged 19+
  • Not already possess a level 2 qualification in English and/or Maths
  • Not previously attained a GCSE grade A*-C or grade 4, or higher in English and/or Maths
  • Not already be enrolled on an apprenticeship, or other UK Department for Education funded programme
  • Ordinarily resident in the European Economic Area (EEA) for three years

How long do they take?

This depends on the delivery method chosen, see the provider options below. Results take at least 4 weeks to arrive, so applications should be made well in advance of any apprenticeship enrolment deadlines.

What is Initial Assessment?

Initial Assessment is required of all learners undertaking functional skills qualifications. It forms either a paper based or online test to assess a learner’s current level of understanding in the subject. This then informs the provider if the learner is suitable to enrol straight onto level 2, or if a lower level may be required first.

Middlesbrough College

Geography covered: Teesside, Tyne & Wear, County Durham, Northumberland

Cost: No charge to learner so long as meet eligibility criteria and live in specified geography

Delivery locations: Middlesbrough College, Dock St, Middlesbrough TS2 1AD

Delivery methods: Blend of classroom based and online delivery. Daytime and evening.

Date range: Roll on programme

Leeds City College

Leeds City College provide functional skills qualifications in English and Maths up to level 2

Geography covered: Leeds and Yorkshire

Cost: No charge to learner so long as meet eligibility criteria and live in specified geography

Delivery locations: Leeds City College Park Lane Campus, Park Ln, Woodhouse, Leeds LS3 1AA

Delivery methods:

Majority of content is available online and learners can reduce their time in the centre by engaging with this.

Day Release Courses

Eligibility is based on Initial Assessment.

These are usually 10-week courses but can be reduced should the learner meet the relevant criteria. Delivered Monday-Thursday mostly during term time.

Twilight Courses

Particularly helpful if learners can’t access the day release course. Based on minimum learner numbers and usually delivered on a Wednesday 16.00-19.00

Date range: Roll on programme

Stockton Riverside College

Geography covered: Yorkshire, Cleveland & Cumbria

Cost: No charge to learner so long as meet eligibility criteria and live in specified geography

Delivery locations: In the workplace, Remote via Microsoft Teams, Remote BKSB delivery & tutor support, Stockton Riverside College, Bede 6th Form College, Redcar College, NETA training

Delivery methods:

Classroom based provision - 1 x 2-hour sessions per week between 6 - 16 weeks depending on starting point.

Online Remote learning - Microsoft Teams (Tutor delivery 1 x 2-hour session per week between 6 - 16 weeks depending on starting point) Daytime, Evening or Saturday.

BKSB delivery - Access as and when, video and tasks set around areas of weakness - practice assessments sent after 'Gaps' completed. (2 - 32 weeks, depending on starting point)

Part time delivery - 1 hour a week between 10 - 32 weeks depending on starting point. Daytime & Evening

Fast track delivery - Independent study, resources e-mailed, feedback from a tutor - only suitable for learners with L2.7+ on Initial assessment. (between 2 - 6 weeks)

Date range: Roll on programmes

Carlisle College

Geography covered: Cumbria

Cost: No charge to learner so long as meet eligibility criteria and live in specified geography

Delivery locations: Carlisle College, Victoria Pl, Carlisle CA1 1HS

Delivery methods: Daytime and Evening teaching available

Date Range: Open for applications between September and March

York College

Geography covered: All areas with YO postcodes

Cost: No charge to learner so long as meet eligibility criteria and live in specified geography

Delivery locations: York College, Sim Balk Ln, Bishopthorpe, York YO23 2BB

Delivery methods: Variety of delivery options but all classroom based at present. Daytime sessions (2.5 hours one day per week), Evening Sessions (2.5 hours one evening per week), Condensed courses – 1 week for Level 2 and 2 weeks for Level 1 – this is 6 hours per day for the duration of the week with the exam at the end of the week.

Date Range: Roll on programme

J&K Training

Geography covered: Tees Valley and County Durham

Cost: No charge to learner so long as meet eligibility criteria and live in specified geography

Delivery locations: Hartlepool, Darlington, Stockton, Middlesbrough, Eston, Bishop Auckland, Chester le Street, Durham

Delivery methods: Blend of classroom based and online delivery.

Date range: Roll on for Tees Valley, September 2020 onwards for County Durham

Doncaster College

Geography covered: Yorkshire

Cost: No charge to learner so long as meet eligibility criteria and live in specified geography

Delivery locations: Doncaster College, The Hub, Chappell Dr, Doncaster DN1 2RF

Delivery methods: We offer classroom delivery within Doncaster College, which may take place during the day or on an evening depending on the learner’s preference and availability.  Delivery within the workplace can also be arranged if there are sufficient numbers at the required location, and it is inside a 20-mile radius of Doncaster College. The courses are also available online. These can be an alternative option if learners are unable to commit to the classroom courses. The online courses provide learners with the flexibility and freedom to complete learning around any home and work commitments they may have. A tutor will be allocated to support learners throughout the course to ensure they keep on track and that they are exam ready. With this option applicants will need to be able to attend Doncaster College to sit the final exam after the learning has taken place.

Date range: Roll on for online delivery, September or January for classroom enrolment

East Durham College

Geography covered: County Durham, Teesside and Tyne & Wear.

Cost: Free to adults who already don’t have a GCSE Grade C or 4 in maths and English

Delivery locations: Peterlee Campus, SR8 2RN

Delivery methods: In class

Date Range: Learners can enrol September to June

Learn Direct (Chargeable)


3-6 months duration average

Online Tutor support

Mock exam included

Exams included

All online

Do exams at home with webcam (must-have) and invigilator watching online, setup support provided

£1149.85 for both per learner

£650.00 Maths Level 2 per learner

£750.75 English Level 2 per learner

The OpenLearn (Open University) (Free) (In conjunction with Middlesbrough College)

Learner enrols online to complete Everyday maths and/or English. Pass and gain a statement of participation. Each course guided learning hours are 48. https://www.open.edu/openlearn/education-development/education/everyday-skills-maths-and-english

Learner contacts Middlesbrough College functional skills team with their statement of participation and they then attend an initial assessment

The initial assessment will determine if the learner is suitable to go straight onto level 2 or needs to study level 1 first.

Following initial assessment, Middlesbrough college will run additional classroom-based teaching to ensure the learner is exam-ready, this can take up to 2 weeks

The learner then sits the formal functional skills exam

Online BKSB (Free) (In conjunction with college)

The bksb Initial Assessment and Diagnostic Assessment can be used to:

- Support 1-1 and work-based learning for employees

- Produce an Individual Learning Plan (ILP) and SMART target to fill skill gaps

- Inform enrolment to the appropriate English, maths and Functional Skills level

- Perform basic self-assessment for dyslexia and dyscalculia

- Evidence Information and Guidance (IAG) 

Independent learning is encouraged with bksb, mirroring the independence of an apprenticeship, thus allowing individuals to work at their own pace through the learning resources, progress checks, and exam practice to upskill and check knowledge. 

National Extension College (NEC) (Chargeable)

Geography covered: National

Cost: NHS staff are eligible for 10% discount upon enrolment; speak to a member of NEC's Course Advice Team for more information

Delivery locations: Online

Delivery methods: All courses are delivered online through learning materials designed specifically for online learning. Course fees include access to the NEC online learning platform, learn@nec, tutor-marked assignments and student support.

Cost: Charges vary per course. For example, Functional Skills: £395-495, GCSE: £495, A level: £750-795.

Date range for applications: Enrolment is flexible so you can enrol whenever suits you.

How to apply: Visit the website to apply online https://www.nec.ac.uk, call 0800 389 2839 or email: info@nec.ac.uk.

Who is this for?

All NHS trusts, community, primary and social care employers.

How do I use it?

This tool can be used in several ways. 

It can help prepare employees who would like to take a functional skills qualification e.g. for an apprenticeship.  This platform will not provide the examination or qualification itself, but the examination can be taken at a local college or FE provider.

It can also help with generalised upskilling and gaining confidence around learning.

Individuals can study on their own and at their own pace, which for some is a great advantage and is more private than other forms of learning. 

It can also be used by employers to do a skills analysis of a group to inform workforce planning.

How do I access it?

Your employer will need to designate a BKSB expert/super user for the organisation. This person will receive training and be able to enrol employees on the system. When learners have completed the tool and are consistently passing the test material, the nominated super user should contact the HEE NE&Y Apprenticeship Hub to discuss how to book a functional skills exam.

Currently, the following colleges provide exams from BKSB learners:

Leeds City College

Stockton Riverside College

J&K Training


How to apply

To understand more about functional skills, tools to support learners and ways to connect with other employers doing the same visit Skills for Health website Skills for Life and Functional Skills. Amongst the new features are:

Please download and complete the attached application form, specifying your chosen provider and email to: apprenticeships.ne@hee.nhs.uk

If you are a provider and wish your information to be posted on this page, please contact: apprenticeships.ne@hee.nhs.uk