English and maths

Free courses for adults

Do you need English or maths qualifications for your job? Will they help you access training? Do you just want to prove to yourself that you can do it?

Whatever your reason, if you’re an adult and you want to update your skills in English and maths, then you’re in the right place. Our learners tell us they gain confidence, skills and new ideas as well as achieving nationally recognised qualifications.

Get Started

Basic reading, writing or maths skills for those who may need additional support.

Get On

Entry 2 & 3 Functional Skills

Brush up on the basics in English and maths and gain confidence.

Move On

Level 1 & 2 Functional Skills

Functional Skills qualifications for employment to return to learning or to prepare for further/higher education, apprenticeships and GCSE.


Grade C or 4 and above are required for many jobs and for access to several further higher education options including nursing or PGCE.

We also offer Level 3 (A Level equivalent) Maths qualifications.

English for Speakers of Other Languages


For non-native English speakers who need to work on grammar, vocabulary, reading and writing.

A learner's desk, viewed over their shoulder, with a maths workbook with a graph on the page. There are a selection of pens and maths implements scattered on the table.
A learner in a GCSE class leaning over their workbook, writing, with other learners and the tutor in the background.

Which class is best for me?

York Learning runs a variety of sessions that will fit around your day-to-day life. We have daytime and evening sessions, both face to face and online via Zoom*. Our face to face sessions run at Acomb and York Explore Libraries.  

Our flexible timetable means that you can choose the pace and way of working which suits you best. 

  • Functional Skills taught courses can be joined at various points during the year. GCSE courses start in September and January (fast track). Classes are two hours a week in term time.
  • Functional Skills Flexi courses combine a weekly class with a tutor and additional study at home, at your own pace, using a specialist online learning programme.
  • Functional Skills exams take place throughout the year. The English exam has 3 elements: a reading exam, a writing exam and speaking and listening tasks. The maths exam consists of a calculator paper and a non-calculator paper. GCSE exams take place in May.

Whichever path is right for you, all our courses are delivered in supportive settings and our tutors are experts in meeting individual needs, including support for your exams.

Ring us or book a one to one assessment online so that you can discuss your current level, needs and any anxieties with a specialist tutor. We will work with you to decide which course is best for you. Whichever course you follow, York Learning offers personalised support so that you can achieve your goals.

*If you’re new to Zoom or don’t have equipment to access online courses, speak to us and we’ll see what we can do to get you started.

This depends on three things:

  • Your personal starting point
  • The level of the qualification you are aiming for
  • The amount of time you are able to commit to the course, both within classes and in your own time.

In most cases, it typically takes between 40 and 60 hours to complete a level – or between 20 and 30 weeks of a once a week class.

If you come to us with the skills, just needing a few pointers on SPAG (spelling, punctuation and grammar) and exam technique; you might complete the qualification in as little as 20 hours.

It really does depend on the individual, which is why we have one to one assessments and expert tutors on hand to advise on the best course of action for each person. What we have found is that if you commit to regular attendance, you will achieve more.

It’s important to note that if you’re a job seeker thinking about starting a course, our offer is flexible enough to ensure you can complete the qualification, even if you start work halfway through.

Functional Skills courses take place weekly and you would be expected to attend for up to two hours a week.

Exams take place on a monthly basis and are arranged when you are ready. You tutor will give you guidance about the best time for you to take your exam.

There are three levels of Functional Skills courses:

  • Get Started – A taught class focussing on basic reading, writing or maths skills for those who may need additional support.
  • Get On – A taught class based on Entry 2 and 3 Functional Skills qualifications in English and maths. Brush up on the basics and gain confidence.
  • Move On – Level 1 and 2 Functional Skills qualifications for employment to return to learning or to prepare for further/higher education, apprenticeships and GCSE. Move On classes can be delivered as taught classes or as flexible learning.

Click here to book an assessment online or contact us to book your next steps.

GCSE classes take place weekly for two and a half hours.

Exams take place on a national timetable, set by the exam board. You will need to be able to be available for exams in May and June of your year of study.
GCSE English students will sit two exams of 1 hour and 45 minutes.
GCSE Maths students will sit three exams of 1 and a half hours.

You can start a one year GCSE course each September. These are intense, fast paced courses. Fast-track courses, which are even faster, are available each January.

Click here to book an assessment online or contact us to book your next steps.

English and maths Functional Skills and GCSE courses are FREE for learners who:

  • are aged 19+ on 31 August 2023
  • hold a UK or EU passport, resident for minimum of 3 years
  • do not have grade C or 4 or above in English or maths

English for Speakers of Other Languages courses are part funded if you meet these criteria, or free if you are earning less than £20, 316 per year.

In all cases, please provide evidence of nationality and resident status at your assessment.

If you have recently completed a course with us, please contact your tutor or one of our enrolment team on 01904 554277 for advice on how to progress.

If this is your first course with us, and you meet the eligibility criteria, please register your interest by creating an account here, then booking an assessment slot.  You will be sent confirmation of your booked time and information about what to do.

If you have any difficulty accessing the booking forms, or you think you may not be eligible for the free courses, but would like to proceed, please email york.learning@york.gov.uk or ring 01904 554277. We will discuss your options and get you started.

These courses are very popular. Don’t delay! Book an assessment today!

If you would like more information about any of these courses before applying, please contact us.

If you’re an employer or you would like to arrange courses for members of your workforce, at your own workplace or through our venues, please contact helen.clarkson@york.gov.uk and we’ll see what we can do.