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Basic Skills Tutor Profile


This Section of the site details information that you might find useful if you are looking to secure employment or require further details regarding working as an Basic Skills Tutor. This page details the following Information:-

  • Finding Suitable Work as an Basic Skills Tutor
  • Working Duties Expected
  • Hours and Environment
  • Working Skills Required
  • Training Requirements
  • Salary Expectations
  • Trade Information
  • Other useful Basic Skills Tutor Work Information

Finding Suitable Work

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Working Duties Expected

Basic skills tutors or teachers, also known as adult literacy or numeracy teachers, help adult learners to improve their skills in reading, writing, spelling and/or maths. Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) help people improve their listening, speaking and writing skills in everyday English. Basic skills tutors teach people with a range of abilities, and the work could involve anything from helping someone to feel more confident in filling in forms, to teaching someone to read.

Basic skills tutors initially meet the learner to assess their skills and discuss their particular goals and needs, to arrive at an individual learning plan. They teach literacy and numeracy skills by various methods, setting group and individual exercises using a variety of resources like books and computer packages. They plan lessons and prepare teaching materials.

Tutors keep records of their learners progress, and provide encouragement and feedback. They must also keep up to date with national standards for literacy and numeracy teaching.

Basic skills mentors, support workers and volunteers provide extra classroom support under the direction of qualified basic skills teachers, for example by assisting with one-to-one or group exercises.

Some tutors work in colleges or training centres, helping trainees on apprenticeships to improve their Key Skills (Core Skills in Scotland) in literacy, numeracy, communication and using information technology.

Hours and Environment

Full-time basic skills tutors are likely to work up to 37 hours a week, with around 25 hours spent teaching. Part-time work and evening work is common.

Basic skills tutors usually work indoors in college classrooms. The increase in outreach and community-based classes means that they may also teach in community centres, schools, libraries, prisons, or learners'' homes.

Skills and Interests

To be a basic skills tutor you should:

  • have an excellent grasp of English (spoken and written) and/or maths
  • have an interest in teaching
  • be able to get on well with a wide range of students of all ages, backgrounds and abilities
  • be flexible, adaptable and imaginative
  • be confident, enthusiastic and able to motivate students
  • be able to express yourself clearly, both in speech and writing
  • be well organised with good planning and preparation skills
  • take an interest in the welfare of individual students
  • have patience, tact and a sense of humour.
  • Computer literacy is also an advantage for many jobs.


England, Wales and Northern Ireland
You can become a basic skills tutor either by studying for teaching qualifications listed in the Training section below or by working as a support assistant (also known as support worker or basic skills volunteer) and then taking appropriate teaching qualifications.

All new basic skills support assistants and teachers/tutors employed by further education colleges are now required to have, or be working towards, a level 3 or 4 qualification respectively, endorsed by the Further Education National Training Organisation (FENTO). Tutors employed by other types of organisation such as community organisations or those teaching in a workplace are not obliged to gain one of the new qualifications, although they will be encouraged to do so.

Support assistants are required to work towards an endorsed Level 3 Certificate for Adult Literacy/Numeracy Support such as:

City & Guilds Adult Literacy Subject Support (9483)
City & Guilds Adult Numeracy Subject Support (9484)
Open College North West Certificate for Adult Literacy Subject Support
OCR Certificate for Adult Literacy Subject Support
OCR Certificate for Adult Numeracy Subject Support.
Basic skills volunteers or mentors without formal qualifications/experience can work towards a level 2 qualification such as the City and Guilds (9295) Adult Learner Support (Literacy, Numeracy or ESOL), also sometimes known as the Basic Skills Volunteer Certificate. This replaces the previous City and Guilds (9281) Initial Certificate in Teaching Basic Skills. They can then progress to the level 3 qualifications listed above.
The City & Guilds Teaching Basic Skills Certificates 9281 and 9285 will no longer be valid entry qualifications for new entrants as they do not meet new FENTO standards.

There is no upper age limit, as maturity is an advantage.

The teaching of adult literacies in Scotland is undergoing a period of change and consultation. Information about new developments and qualifications is available from the Scottish Executive Department of Education and Training. See the Lecturer: Further Education profile for information about how to qualify to work in further education colleges in Scotland.


To become a fully qualified basic skills tutor you will need a FENTO accredited level 4 teaching qualification such as:

Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) in further education
Certificate in Education (Cert Ed)
City & Guilds Further Education Teaching Certificate (7407)
OCR Level 4 Certificate in FE Teaching
Edexcel (BTEC) Level 4 Certificate in FE Teaching.
Plus a subject-specific award such as:
City & Guilds Certificate for Adult Literacy Subject Specialists (9485) or Certificate for Adult Numeracy Subject Specialists (9486)
OCR Level 4 Certificate for Adult Literacy Subject Specialists or OCR Level 4 Certificate for Adult Numeracy Subject Specialists
Cambridge Certificate in Further Education Teaching Stage 3 for ESOL Subject Specialists or Trinity Certificate in FE Teaching (TESOL) plus Trinity Certificate for Adult ESOL Subject Specialists.
Other awarding bodies for the level 4 teaching qualification include Awarding Body Consortium (ABC), Joint Examining Board (JEB) and certain universities. Contact FENTO for further details.
With the exception of the PGCE and Cert Ed, the new level 4 certificates are made up of three stages, with Stage 3 giving the equivalent professional qualification to the PGCE and Cert Ed. You may be able to transfer to a PGCE/Cert Ed if you have already completed Stages 1 and 2 of the new awards. Check with individual training providers.

Several universities and higher education colleges are now developing/offering integrated PGCE/Cert Ed teaching qualifications that incorporate the subject-specific literacy/numeracy standards. Please check with individual colleges for details.

Entry to a level 4 teaching course usually requires relevant teaching experience and/or access to a teaching placement (normally a minimum of 60-120 hours over the academic year). You will also need a level 3 qualification such as those listed in the Entry section, or level 4 qualification eg BTEC HNC/HND; entry to PGCE requires a first degree.

Existing basic skills teachers holding the previous City and Guilds (9285) Teaching Basic Skills award can take further Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to enable them to meet the new FENTO standards. Contact FENTO for details.

ESOL basic skills tutors that currently hold Cambridge Certificate in Teaching English Language to Adults (CELTA) will need to do module 2 of Cambridge Certificate for ESOL Subject Specialists. Teachers with the Trinity College London Level 4 Certificate in TESOL will need to do the Trinity Certificate for Adult ESOL Subject Specialists.


Basic skills tutors and support workers can work in colleges, adult education centres, community centres, voluntary organisations, prisons, private training providers, and work-based training organisations.

There is a growing demand for basic skills tutors, since new initiatives to improve adult literacy and numeracy are constantly being developed. You can get information on the latest programmes and volunteer schemes from Basic Skills Agency (England and Wales) and other government agency websites listed below.

With experience, basic skills tutors could move into management, or adult education strategy and development posts. Those working in colleges could be promoted to senior lecturer or head of department.

Annual Income

This section is intended as a guideline only. Starting salary can depend on experience, qualifications, and whether the tutor is employed by a further education college, a charity or a private training provider.

Basic skills support workers usually begin on £11,500 to £14,000 a year.
Basic skills tutors can begin on £13,000 to £19,000 a year, (those working in colleges should begin on at least £16,030 a year, or £17,793 in Scotland).
When experienced they can earn up to £27,603 (£35,460 in Scotland).

Further information

Further Education National Training Organisation (FENTO) *
4th Floor
32 Farringdon Street
Post-16 Teaching Information Helpline: 020 7332 9535

Department for Education and Skills

Basic Skills Agency

University of Cambridge ESOL Exams
1 Hills Road
Tel: 01223 553355

Trinity College London
89 Albert Embankment
Tel: 020 7820 6100

Department of Employment and Learning Northern Ireland (DELNI)
Adelaide House
39-49 Adelaide Street
Tel: 028 9025 7777

Scottish Executive, Education and Training Department
SS13, Area 2A
Victoria Quay
Tel: 0131 244 4544/7930

National Training Organisations (NTOs) ceased to be recognised by the government on 31 March 2002. However, some are continuing to operate in their respective fields. Please contact individual NTOs with queries regarding their current status.

The Secretary of State for Education and Skills is licensing new Sector Skills Councils - charged with boosting skills and productivity in business sectors. For information about Sector Skills Councils, their roles and responsibilities, please visit the Sector Skills Development Agency website:

Other Useful Basic Skills Tutor Work Information

We have a section available at this site on Basic Skills Tutor job interview tips that you may find of interest should you wish to brush up your skills in this area and we also have number of career articles that may also be of use to you from within our guides and documents section.

Locations where we feature Jobs include:-
Aberdeen, Berkshire, Aberdeen, Bath, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Central London, Cheltenham, Cornwall, Coventry, Derby, Devon, Docklands, Dorset, Dundee, Durham, East Midlands, East Sussex, Edinburgh, Essex, Glasgow, Gloucester, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leeds, Leicester, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Midlands and in various parts of the West Midlands

Details of other Basic Skills Tutor Jobs can also be found in other UK wide areas including:-
Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Norfolk, North London, North Midlands, Northampton, Northamptonshire, Northern Ireland, Northumberland, Norwich, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Oxford, Oxfordshire, Plymouth, Salisbury, Scotland, Sheffield, Shropshire, Somerset, South East, South London, South Midlands, Southampton, Staffordshire Surrey, Swansea, Swindon, Telford, Wales, Warwickshire, West End, West London, West Midlands, Worcestershire, York and throughout Yorkshire.

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