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Functional Skills

Maths and English 


The Functional Skills programme of Maths and English is taught through half termly themes. The themes focus on preparing the students for adulthood by giving a context within which to learn and apply their key functional skills. The curriculum for both Maths and English has been developed using the Adult Core Curriculum. One of the Beacon College’s overarching aims and ambitions for students as they move into adulthood is for them to become active members of their local community and society and the ability to interact with others in a meaningful and purposeful way is key to this. Therefore, the opportunity for students to develop these skills within everyday contexts for a range of purposes is a priority and drives our core learning opportunity. 


Functional Skills Half-Termly Contextual Theme: 



Autumn 1  

Autumn 2  

Spring 1  

Spring 2  

Summer 1  

Summer 2  

Year A 









Making meals   




Improving our environment  



Year B   


Making meals   


Caring for Pets  




Financial Support  

Setting up a home  

Event Planning  

Our Locality  


Year C  


Healthy Lifestyles  


Black History 







Managing a Home 


Travel and Tourism  


Functional skills lessons are taught in streamed groups according to pathway and the student’s individual needs. The themes are further broken down for each pathway to enable the effective learning of skills at a level appropriate to the individual students. 


Reading and Communication:  


At the Beacon College we recognise the importance of reading, and we endeavour to ensure that all students have the opportunity to learn to read to the best of their ability. We understand the significance of a culturally rich reading curriculum which broadens the student’s experiences and exposure to life.  



We recognise that:  

  • Reading is central to enabling our students to access learning across the curriculum.  

  • Reading enables our students to have more choice of future educational or employment destinations and ensures the continuity of life-long learning.  

  • Reading allows our students to become more independent by enabling them to read in a functional context.  

  • Reading promotes personal wellbeing and supports our students to lead happy and healthy lives.  


At the Beacon College we utilise, and have embedded, a combination of approaches to maximise our students’ progress in learning to read.  


We use:  

  • A balanced approach to early reading promoting a variety of activities to engage students.  

  • A systematic phonics learning programme which is rigorously implemented and assessed.  

  • Explicit teaching of reading comprehension strategies.  

  • Explicit teaching of vocabulary.  

  • Active promotion of reading for pleasure.  


All students participate in stand-alone, personalised Reading and Communication sessions each morning within their Functional Skills group. Students focus on their personalised Communication and/or Reading skills targets within these sessions. Reading is planned as a result of assessments in phonics, high frequency words (Action Word programme) and the PM Benchmarking assessment, in addition to using the Reading skills frameworks on Evidence for Learning. 




Students at Barrs Court are taught synthetic phonics through the Read Write Inc. Fresh Start Phonics programme. Read Write Inc. Fresh Start is used in Reading and Communication sessions alongside other strategies to promote the development of reading. During Fresh Start lessons students are taught the English alphabetic code (the 150+ graphemes that represent the 44 speech sounds) in speed sounds sessions. The programme uses simple mnemonics to help students to read and write the letter-sound correspondences. At the Beacon College we recognise that synthetic phonics still plays an important role in supporting students to make progress in their reading. We supplement the Read Write Inc Fresh Start programme with multi-sensory activities, personalised to meet the needs of our students.  





At the Beacon College we aim to: 

  • Promote a total communication approach throughout the college. 

  • Ensure all students can understand and communicate as effectively as possible using strategies which are most appropriate to their individual needs. 

  • Promote consistent development of communication by creating opportunities throughout the curriculum for each young person to communicate to the best of their ability. 

  • Provide parents and carers with the necessary skills to support the communication needs of their child. 



At the Beacon College we do this by ensuring that not only is the development of communication skills embedded across the curriculum but also taught as part of a Reading and Communication timetable lesson. All students who are developing their communication skills have a Communication and Interaction as part of their EHCP (Education, Health and Care Plan). We then use this outcome to write one or more Personal Learning Goals which the student then works towards over an academic year. At the Beacon College we also work closely with the Speech and Language Therapy team to ensure we complete the therapy plans they recommend.