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Essential Skills

Build your confidence and improve your job prospects with our Essential Skills courses.

A student studying in the library


Our range of GCSE & Functional Skills courses can help build your confidence, help you succeed in the workplace, improve your job prospects and provide you with skills to aid your children with their schoolwork.

When you join our adult education courses, you'll learn within small, friendly groups where you can work at a pace to suit your ability and individual aims.

Whether you choose to improve your Maths and English, learn a new GCSE subject, or want to develop your skills so you can progress on to a degree course, your future starts here!


Our Essential Skills courses will help you develop essential skills for home and the workplace.

Write letters, notes, messages and emails
Create a better CV
Improve spelling, punctuation and grammar
Produce succinct reports and summaries
Understanding of the Key Stage 4 curriculum
Become confident working with everyday numbers for real-life situations

Qualifications available

Our free Functional Skills courses are for anyone who would like to improve their Maths or English for work, education or daily life. You will work at your own pace in a friendly, supportive atmosphere and gain confidence as well as a qualification. Following an initial assessment, we will tailor a course to suit your needs.

These GCSE courses are designed for adults who may not have studied for some time and who lack confidence in these subjects. They are free, are available in the daytime or evening, and don’t require any entry qualifications. In the first few weeks, we will assess your progress and recommend either a one-year or a two-year GCSE option. If you follow the two-year route you will gain a qualification in Functional Skills Level 1 in the first year, developing your skills and confidence, and then progress on to the GCSE.

We also offer community learning programmes in Ilfracombe, Sticklepath and Bideford. Please contact adultgcse@petroc.ac.uk​ for more information.

Many students hoping to progress to higher education require an improved GCSE profile. GCSE Science and Biology are beneficial to students considering careers in primary school teaching and nursing. You may be able to receive funding for these courses, subject to conditions.

We also offer community learning programmes in Ilfracombe, Braunton and Bideford. Please contact adultgcse@petroc.ac.uk​ for more information.

When you study on an ESOL course, you will gain the confidence you need to communicate in English at work, in education and in your social life. You will also meet new friends from all over the world in a relaxed atmosphere. There are no entry requirements for this course - an initial assessment will determine the correct level of class for you.

We also offer a bespoke programme that can be held off-site. Please contact adultgcse@petroc.ac.uk​ for more information.

If you are looking to enrol on an Access to HE course but feel your confidence and study skills could do with a boost, then this course could be for you.

The course will help you make decisions about your future, and prepare you for progression to further study and improve your Maths and English attainment levels. It includes GCSE Maths, GCSE English and a Level 2 NOCN Award in Skills for Employment, Training and Personal Development (Level 2).

This course is free to learners who are progressing onto an Access to Higher Education Diploma.

Why Petroc should be your first choice

Petroc offers high quality education and training across North and Mid Devon. We provide outstanding learning, excellent facilities, strong connections to employers and a supportive environment to help you fulfil your education goals and set you on your path to the career of your dreams.

A group of Petroc students having a conversation


We offer a supportive and inclusive environment where you can flourish and feel a valued member of the college and wider community. 


Our teaching spaces and facilities are some of the best in the region, providing stimulating and true-to-life learning environments. 


We’ll provide you with the experiences you need to be ready for employment or the next step on your educational journey.