Ann Gravells is an author, creator of teacher training resources and an education consultant

All teachers should have a knowledge and understanding of literacy, language, numeracy, and information and communication technology (ICT) skills. These are known as the minimum core.

Demonstrating proficiency of these skills will help ensure you carry out your role professionally, and support your learners adequately with their skills.

If you are taking a teaching qualification, for example the Certificate or Diploma in Education and Training, you are required to demonstrate these skills throughout your teaching practice.

However, the minimum core should really apply to everyone, not just those taking a teaching qualification. All trainers, assessors and anyone who supports the teaching, learning and assessment process should ideally be proficient in the minimum core skills.

Some ways of demonstrating the four minimum core skills include:

  1. Literacy – reading, writing, checking spelling, grammar, punctuation and syntax of own and learners' work
  2. Language – speaking and listening
  3. Numeracy – carrying out calculations, interpretations, evaluations and measurements
  4. ICT – using e-learning, a virtual learning environment (VLE), e-mails, new technology, video conferencing, creating resources, for example, using a word processor, a spreadsheet or a presentation package.

Developing and improving your minimum core skills will enable you to consider how to best teach your subject in ways that also support the development of your learners' skills in these areas. You need to be prepared to meet the needs of your learners whose levels of literacy, language, numeracy and ICT skills might otherwise jeopardise or hinder their learning.

You can read my article about embedding these skills in FENews here.

You therefore need to ensure your own skills are adequate, to help improve those of your learners. For example, you might encourage your learners to use various aspects of new technology, but not feel confident at using them yourself. You might like to take additional training, for example, if your computer skills need further development or you feel your spelling and grammar need improving.

The recent FELTAG report Paths forward to a digital future for Further Education and Skills (2014), recommends an increase in the use of technology.

When teaching, your learners will trust and believe you, for example, if you are spelling words wrongly in a handout or a presentation, your learners will think the spelling is correct, just because you are their teacher. There are some links towards the end of this article which you might find helpful.

Here is an example taken from Gravells A & Simpson S (2014) The Certificate in Education and Training regarding demonstrating the minimum core skills towards the unit:

Planning to meet the needs of learners in education and training:


Reading relevant internal and external guidance to ascertain the requirements for initial and diagnostic assessment. Reading the syllabus or qualification handbook and making notes regarding what will be delivered and assessed. Completing templates and forms, and checking spelling, grammar, punctuation and syntax.


Speaking to learners about their individual needs. Asking questions to ascertain a learner's prior knowledge and experience, and listening to their responses. Listening to questions and answering them appropriately.


Calculating how long initial and diagnostic assessment activities will take, and the time it will take to ascertain and interpret the results. Working out how many sessions and hours will be required when devising a scheme of work. Planning how long various teaching, learning and assessment activities will take during a session.


Preparing online materials and uploading them to a virtual learning environment (VLE) or other accessible system. Using a word processor or other application to create handouts and resources. Using e-mail or social networking to communicate appropriately. Using new technology to support particular learning needs.


Hopefully this article has given you some ideas of how to demonstrate the minimum core skills. There's nothing wrong in admitting you don't know how to do something, and then asking for help.

Ann Gravells is an author, creator of teacher training resources and an education consultant

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Guides and books to support the minimum core

Further information

* LSIS (2007, revised 2013) Addressing literacy, language, numeracy and ICT needs in education and training: Defining the minimum core of teachers' knowledge, understanding and personal skills – A guide for initial teacher education programmes Coventry LSIS

* A companion guide: Inclusive learning approaches for literacy, language, numeracy and ICT (2007)

Useful weblinks:

BBC - online ICT learning
Citizen maths - Brush up on your maths for free
Digital Unite - Guides to using ICT
Move on - English, maths, ESOL and Work Skills online learning
MEI - innovators in mathematics education
Teacher training videos for using ICT
Using a virtual learning environment (VLE)

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