English and maths are at the heart of everything that we do at St. John’s College. Our functional skills team deliver bespoke small group sessions tailored to individual’s needs, EHCP outcomes, and focused on overcoming barriers to achieve their aspirations. Learner’s English and maths levels are assessed prior to starting at St. John’s College and all learners work towards English and maths qualifications.

How it works

Learners at St. John’s college have a wide range of abilities and skills and are assessed on the Achievement Continuum, at Entry Levels, and at Levels 1 – 2. Qualifications range from Awards and Certificates in Personal Progress, Entry Level Functional Skills qualifications up to Level 2 and GCSEs.

Our functional skills team set an English and a maths target every half term for each learner to work on throughout the curriculum, in the community, in the workplace, and in our residential placements. All education, therapy and care staff document and monitor progress in English and maths on Evisense. Evisense our a new online digital portfolio which enables staff, learners and parents to celebrate progress, share good practice, communicate around support strategies and plan the learners next steps.

We have a college-wide English and maths calendar where staff are asked to focus in on one or two areas each week. All staff are asked to promote the themes in a fun and creative way, embedding it in sessions and as they move around the college. This supports learners to transfer their skills between different sessions and into different areas of their lives.

Alongside vocational, functional English and maths we also promote English and maths for fun through regular reading and problem-solving. This year learners will be collaborating with the drama department to create a performance of Midsummer Night’s Dream for the Brighton Fringe Festival in May and the art, drama, English and maths departments will be collaborating to create an immersive ‘Escape Room’ experience for NATSPEC Maths week.

Example programmes

Every learner at St. John’s College has a bespoke timetable; here are some of the programmes that we typically offer:

E3 – L2

Learners have discrete English and maths sessions which focus on developing the skills to achieve accreditation which will support them to progress onto mainstream further education and/or into work. Most learners will do functional skills qualifications. A few learners work towards GCSEs.

Teachers and support in these sessions are all trained in teaching English and maths up to Level 2. This year we will be working on an innovative new programme working with key local employers to identify skills gaps in their workplace and develop maths sessions in the workplace so learners are able to transfer the skills that they are learning in the classroom into the workplace.

Entry 1 – 2

Learners have discrete English and maths sessions which focus on learning the skills they need for independence and employability. They work towards awards in measure shape and space and/or number skills. Learner’s in this area often have skills gaps at lower levels and staff work closely with learners to develop strategies to fill the gaps.

Teachers and support in these sessions are all trained in teaching maths and English at Entry Level and using digital media in English and maths.

Achievement Continuum

Learners have a discrete 2.5 hour combined functional skills session which focuses on developing English and maths and ICT skills for communication at home, in the community and in the workplace. Teachers are trained in intensive interaction, Numicon, phonics, PECs, Grid 3 and Widget online.


Learners in our Involve programme are unable to access our other college classes and often need functional skills delivered 1:1 or 2:1. Sessions are delivered outside of the classroom and in collaboration with the learner’s teacher and core team.

Functional 10s

Learners have an area that they would like to develop and practice every day in order to overcome a barrier to their learning. They practice the skill in tutor time every day. Skills include; phonics, Numicon, touch typing, and Singapore bar modelling. This is a new initiative which should support a learner to progress quicker in identified priority areas.