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English / Maths skills

In order to be accepted on to your ITT course, you need to demonstrate that you have a GCSE in Maths and English Language (and a GCSE in a Science subject if you’re a Primary trainee) at grade C / 4 or above (or standard equivalent). If you don’t meet this entry criteria, your ITT provider may have asked you to sit a full GCSE, a GCSE equivalency test, or offered you the opportunity to show other evidence to demonstrate your ability. If this is the case, please let your pre-ITT Guidance & Development Adviser (GDA) know.

Previously, candidates offered places on ITT courses had to take and pass Professional Skills Tests (PSTs) in literacy and numeracy before they could be accepted on their courses. However, the requirement to take and pass PSTs has now been removed. Your ITT provider will have assured that you have the fundamental English and Maths skills to become a teacher either at interview; or they will assess and support you to do so during your ITT course. Your ITT provider must show the DfE that they have supported you and ensured you meet the required literacy and numeracy standards in order to award you qualified teacher status (QTS) at the end of your course.

If you’ve been advised by your ITT provider that you need to work on your literacy and / or numeracy skills, and / or you feel you just want to brush up your skills, then see below for a list of skills that are expected. You can also use BBC Skillswise to help you brush up on your skills. Ask your pre-ITT Guidance & Development Adviser (GDA) if you need any more advice about this.


Fundamental English and Mathematics Proficiencies

If you have been assessed by your ITT provider as needing to develop your fundamental English language and Maths skills, you will not be explicitly taught these skills whilst on your ITT course. Any work to address shortfalls in English and Maths skills must be undertaken by you in addition to other aspects of your ITT. It is your responsibility to secure these fundamental skills, whereas responsibility for assurance lies with your ITT provider. Your ITT provider may support you with acquiring these skills. If you are unsure, ask your ITT provider.

The following guidance was developed in October 2019 through a collaboration between the National Association for School Based Teacher Training (NASBTT), the Universities Council for Education & Training (UCET) and the Department for Education (DfE).  It is published here for guidance purposes only and does not constitute official advice from the DfE.  ITT providers are free to adapt this guidance for the purposes of their own contexts. Ask your ITT provider for details.

This guidance represents the baseline requirements for fundamental proficiencies in English and Maths for teachers, irrespective of phase (Primary or Secondary) or subject specialism.


English: What must be assured?

Speaking, listening and communicating are fundamental to a teacher’s role.  Teachers should use standard English grammar, clear pronunciation and vocabulary relevant to the situation to convey instructions, questions, information, concepts and ideas with clarity.  Teachers should read fluently and with good understanding. 

Writing by teachers will be seen by colleagues, pupils and parents and, as such, it is important that a teacher’s writing reflects the high standards of accuracy their professional role demands. They should write clearly, accurately, legibly and coherently using correct spelling and punctuation. 


Speaking, Listening and Communicating:

Identify key information and main points from discussion or presentations. 

For example, summarise a training session when feeding back to colleagues, or draw out key points from a pupil's explanation.

Demonstrate effective listening skills and the ability to follow a line of thought.  For example, evaluate understanding in pupil responses and paraphrase, restate, illustrate or simplify information accordingly.

Use a range of questions appropriate to purpose and context.  

For example, use open questions to elicit longer responses when asking pupils to explain their understanding, ideas and actions.

Communicate information and ideas clearly, adding appropriate detail.   

For example, include anecdotes, examples and facts to engage the listener.

Speak with Standard English grammar and clear pronunciation, using vocabulary relevant to the situation.  

For example, give a pupil feedback about how to improve their work; discuss with an adult how they can support that improvement.

Manage discussions effectively.  

For example, recognise when a discussion is becoming unfocused or irrelevant and use clear but tactful techniques to address this.



Extract key points and more specific information from texts.  

For example, summarise the main points made in an educational research paper and locate specific quotes.

Recognise that different texts convey information, opinions and ideas in different ways.  

For example, compare several written accounts of an incident, identify possible reasons for differences and use this knowledge to draw conclusions.

Accurately comprehend meanings in texts.  

For example, read a letter from a parent and understand implied messages before responding.

Use dictionaries, glossaries, internet searches and other reference materials in your own work.  

For example, check spellings and find the meanings of unfamiliar words. 

Know how to use organisational features of texts to rapidly locate and retrieve information.  

For example, show pupils how to use subheadings to identify relevant sections of text, or how to use internet searches effectively to locate relevant information.

Be able to identify different points of view from reading material and distinguish fact from opinion.  

For example, understand how language can be used to influence the reader or give weight to one side of an argument over another when reading educational research material.



Demonstrate a range of sentence constructions and punctuation in written work. For example, identify punctuation errors made by pupils and support pupils in correcting them.

Use Standard English grammar in written work.  

For example, ensure there is no ambiguity when writing a report about a behaviour incident.

Spell common and everyday words that a professional would be expected to know. For example, spell words correctly in resources prepared for pupils and proofread documents effectively.

Ensure written work conveys meaning clearly, coherently and effectively using appropriate detail and length.  

For example, give brief written feedback to a pupil to address a misconception or write texts of greater complexity to share learning from professional development with colleagues. 

Use a range of organisational devices in written work, ensuring the text is coherent and cohesive.  

For example, use paragraphing, tables, bullet points and graphs to add clarity and structure for the reader.

Use legible and clear writing appropriate to the situation and audience.   

For example, ensure that writing shared with pupils models high expectations. 


Mathematics: What must be assured?

Teachers should use data and graphs to interpret information, identify patterns and trends and draw appropriate conclusions.  They need to interpret pupil data and understand statistics and graphs in the news, academic reports and relevant papers. 

Teachers should be able to complete mathematical calculations fluently with whole numbers, fractions, decimals and percentages.  They should be able to solve mathematical problems using a variety of methods and approaches including estimating and rounding, sense checking answers, breaking down problems into simpler steps and explaining and justifying answers using appropriate language. 


Data and Graphs:

Describe simple mathematical relationships between two variables.  

For example, make connections and comparisons between pupil results on different assessments.

Analyse data in a table and draw conclusions from the information provided. For example, discuss the progress of a target group.

Make sense of statistics and graphs in the news, in academic reports and relevant papers.

For example, interpret graphs and tables in newspaper articles relevant to a curriculum area.

Identify and interpret anomalies and outliers in data tables or on graphs.  For example, spot an error in a pupil’s data.


Mathematical Calculations:

Calculate using whole and decimal numbers.

For example, identify the most economical way to buy resources for every class. 

Make changes to an existing mathematical formula to carry out calculations.  

For example, calculate the cost of an order of multiple resources, including delivery.

Work out percentages of amounts, express one amount as a percentage of another and calculate percentage change.  

For example, calculate and compare a pupil’s scores from two tests with different numbers of marks.

Order, approximate and compare decimals, fractions and percentages.  

For example, choose between offers such as ‘25% reduction’ or ‘1/3 off’ when purchasing resources in a sale. 

Understand and calculate using ratios, direct proportion and inverse proportion.  

For example, plan the number of adults required to supervise pupils on an educational visit.

Carry out simple budgeting by calculating amounts of money, percentage increases, decreases and discounts.

For example, calculate the additional cost of a trip per pupil when a coach company increases its prices.


Solve Mathematical Problems:

Solve mathematical problems by breaking them down into a series of simpler steps and selecting appropriate operations.  

For example, identify the information needed, and operations to use, to calculate the profits of the pupils’ tuck shop. 

Make general estimates of calculations to be able to judge the reasonableness of an answer.  

For example, estimate the number of counters needed for a class game.

Know how to use a variety of strategies when counting, measuring or estimating.  

For example, round to the nearest pound for money calculations or measure between two fence posts to estimate the full length of the fence.

Calculate using units of time.

For example, know what time to commence different activities of varying length so that they can be completed over the course of an afternoon. 

Am I eligible?

Interested in making a career change? Transition to Teach is a free service funded by the Department for Education. We can support career changers who meet our eligibility criteria.