Skills For Life Teacher

Job Description:

Skills for life teachers work with adults and sometimes 16 to 18-year-olds to improve their English and maths.

Job Category:

What you will do:

You’ll teach and support adults and young people who want to improve their skills in:

  • reading, writing and spelling (literacy)
  • maths (numeracy)
  • ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages)

You might also work with adults with learning difficulties and disabilities.

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • carrying out skills assessments
  • talking to students about what they want to achieve
  • designing learning plans to suit the needs and abilities of students
  • preparing teaching materials
  • using a range of resources like worksheets and computer packages
  • delivering individual and group teaching sessions
  • keeping records
  • guiding and supporting learning support assistants and volunteers


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

As well as:

  • the ability to come up with new ways of doing things (creativity)
  • the ability to create the best conditions for learning or teaching new thingsthe ability to work on your own (drive)
  • leadership skills
  • communication skills: effective communication skills are crucial for conveying concepts and instructions clearly to students.
  • to be thorough and pay attention to  detail (organisational skills)
  • patience and empathy: this career often involves working with learners who may face various challenges, so patience and empathy are essential.
  • customer service skills
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

Becoming a Skills for Life teacher typically involves teaching literacy, numeracy, and other essential skills to adults or individuals who need additional support in these areas. While there are no strict GCSE subject requirements for this role, you should have a strong foundation in subjects and skills related to literacy, numeracy, and education. Here are some GCSE subjects and skills that can be beneficial for aspiring Skills for Life teachers:

  1. English Language: Strong language skills are essential for teaching literacy, so proficiency in English is a must.
  2. Mathematics: Basic mathematical skills are important for teaching numeracy and helping students with math concepts.
  3. Psychology: Understanding the psychology of learning, especially for adult learners, can be valuable.
  4. Teaching and Education: Courses or subjects related to education can provide insights into teaching methodologies, classroom management, and student assessment.
  5. Sociology: Knowledge of sociological concepts can be beneficial for understanding the social and cultural factors that can affect adult learning.

Post School

You’ll need a minimum qualification in the subject area you wish to teach. In the UK this is a Level 3, for example, an A level maths to teach numeracy.

You’ll also need a teaching qualification and a specialist diploma. In the UK, for example, courses include:

  • Diploma in Education and Training
  • Diploma in Education and Training with specialist pathway
  • Integrated specialist diploma.

If you have a degree, you can take a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) or a professional graduate diploma in education (PGDE) in teaching disabled adults, literacy, ESOL, combined literacy with ESOL or numeracy.

If you don’t have a degree, you can take the certificate in education or the professional diploma in education.

When applying for any of these qualifications, colleges, universities and private training providers will assess your skills and knowledge in English, maths and ICT.

If you don’t already have a minimum qualification in all these subjects, you’ll be given the opportunity to get these during your teacher training.

You may be eligible for a training bursary if you are looking to specialise in teaching maths, English or special educational needs.

You’ll also need clearance.

Working Hours and Environment:

You could work full-time or part-time.

As a part-time teacher you may only have a temporary contract.

As a full-time teacher you’ll usually work up to 37 hours a week, with around 25 hours spent teaching.

Evening work is common.

You could be based in a college or an adult education centre and spend some of your time teaching in community centres, libraries or prisons.

You could also work for a training provider helping people to improve their skills as preparation for employment.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience, there may be opportunities to progress to more senior roles and higher pay scales.

You could be promoted to head of department, or move into training other teachers.