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English Courses


If English is not your first language please click here for our English for Speakers of Other Languages courses.

Our English courses can help you be who you want to be

If you want to improve your English skills for work, further study, to support your children with their homework, or to simply make everyday life a bit easier, then you’ve come to the right place.

Please note: due to Coronavirus courses are currently being delivered in a variety of ways including online, as blended learning (a mixture of face to face learning in the classroom and online delivery) or in the classroom using social-distancing.


Functional Skills

Functional Skills are qualifications in English and Maths that equip learners with practical skills required in everyday life. It is not just about developing knowledge; it is also about knowing when and how to use the knowledge in real life situations. You can get ahead in work, education and daily life by gaining a Functional Skills qualification.

Our courses are held at venues in Bournemouth, Poole and across Dorset, at different times of the day and evening. Most courses start in September, but there are more opportunities to enrol later in the year. Learners who enrol on our English and Maths Functional Skills courses are funded by the Government. 

We offer a range of long, intensive and fast track courses to suit different abilities and lifestyles. Recognised qualifications are available from Entry Level right up to more advanced qualifications at Level 2. Fast track and intensive courses are particularly suitable if you can commit to studying and revising in your own time and have access to a computer.


A GCSE is a more intensive academic course, completed within 9 months. It requires your full commitment to achieve success and you will need to allocate a significant amount of time to studying independently. 

You need to be working to at least Level 1 to join a GCSE course. Depending on the results of your assessment, you may be enrolled first on a Functional Skills qualification course to help you develop the foundation skills required before progressing to a GCSE. Similarly, if English is your second language, you may be advised to join one of our ESOL courses first. 

English and Maths GCSE may be fully funded (i.e. you pay no fee) if you do not already have a grade C, or grade 4 or above in the subject. If this has already been achieved, you will be required to pay the full cost of £811.00.

What will I learn?

Our tutors will work with you to create a personal learning plan, but all English courses will help you:

  • Brush up your reading and writing skills
  • Improve your spelling
  • Develop confident communication skills
  • Gain a nationally recognised qualification
  • Increase job prospects

Where and when are courses held?

Our relaxed and informal courses are held five days a week at venues across Poole, Bournemouth and Dorset.

We offer daytime and evening sessions, so you are bound to find something that fits around your lifestyle.

Most courses are 3 hours long and run once a week, although there are intensive options available with courses twice a week for those under time pressure to achieve a qualification and who can commit to studying and revising independently.

We also offer online courses if you have good IT skills and equipment and can work independently with tutor support. 

NB: Due to Coronavirus we are currently delivering our courses in a variety of ways including online, blended learning and in the classroom. You will be able to discuss which method of learning is best for you at the Admission Session.

What will I gain?

At Skills & Learning, we offer a range of qualifications to suit all abilities, including portfolio-based units, stepping-stone assessments, Functional Skills and GCSE.

We will discuss your options and advise you on the best pathway for you, depending on your starting point and what you hope to achieve. 

What is the difference between English Functional Skills and English GCSE?

An English Functional Skills qualification is designed to equip learners with the knowledge and skills that will enable them to operate confidently, effectively and independently in life, education and work. It is particularly suitable for people who do not have a GCSE Grade C or 4, and who want to gain a nationally recognised qualification. Functional Skills exams can be taken throughout the year. Please click here to access information about our Functional Skills courses on our Frequently Asked Questions page.

An English GCSE is a more intensive  academic course, completed within 9 months. It requires your full commitment to achieve success and you will need to allocate a significant  amount of time to studying  independently. Courses start in September and exams are taken the following May/June. Please click here to access more information on our GCSE page.

How much will it cost?

Your study will be fully funded by the Government if you do not yet have an English GCSE grade C (Level 4) or above. It is important that you make the commitment to attend your course every week.

How do I get started?

The first step is to book onto one of our online Admission Sessions where one of our friendly team will contact you by phone and work with you to choose the right course for your current level of knowledge. Most courses start in September although there are other opportunities to join at set points throughout the year.

Want to enrol on a Functional Skills English course?

To enrol on a English course you need to book onto one of our English admission sessions by completing an online application. 

(Please note you must follow the instructions on the application page carefully) 

If you are not able to complete an application online then please contact us on 01202 123444 or where we will talk through your options 

Want to enrol on a GCSE English course?

Please click here for further information about GCSE English.

For English GCSE courses you will need to book onto one of our English admission sessions by completing an application. 

(Please note you must follow the instructions on the application page carefully) 

If you are not able to complete an application online then please contact us on 01202 123444 or where we will talk through your options 

Want to know more?

Click here for answers to the questions we get asked most frequently about GCSE and Functional Skills qualifications. 

Click here to see our current list of available Functional Skills English classes. 

Click here to see our current list of available GCSE English classes – please note the enrolments for GCSE classes are now closed for this academic year and will re-open in June 2021.

What do our learners say about our English classes? 

“The course was great. Very well structured and organised. We had a lot of support, feedback and motivation. There were lots of materials and resources to learn. One of the best courses I’ve ever taken and I’ve taken many.” 

I’m more confident reading to my daughter. I always dreaded bedtimes and story books. Now I’m, ‘Which book tonight?’ 

“Because of going to English, I have started voluntary work in a shop.” 

“This course has been fantastic for me. It has made me really want to better myself and continue being in education as I really enjoy learning.” 

“My confidence has improved dramatically since starting courses with Skills & Learning and even though I’ve had some health problems that have made it difficult, I have been supported all along the way.” 

“I have felt inspired to learn and comfortable to ask for clarification when needed.” 

“I have achieved my Level 1 and I’m working towards my Level 2 in 2019/20. My confidence has improved and I have a new and better job.” 

“I never realised how great English was until I stepped into your classroom. Thank you.”