Minimum core skills

This page covers:

  • What is the minimum core?

  • Minimum core guidance

  • Support for the minimum core

  • Demonstrating the minimum core

  • English, maths and digital skills 

  • Sustainability

  • Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)

  • Useful weblinks

  • Minimum core resources for immediate download

What is the minimum core?

The minimum core has been updated for those learners who register on a Level 4 (or above) teaching qualification from 1st September 2022 e.g. CET/DET. You can download the updated ETF guidance and criteria here.

If you are a teacher or a learner, a PowerPoint; handout and checklist are available towards the end of this page, which you can download for immediate use.

The minimum core was introduced in 2004 to support awarding organisations and teacher education programmes to equip trainee teachers in developing inclusive approaches to addressing the literacy, language, numeracy and ICT needs of their learners. The new version also includes sustainability; and equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)

Revised in 2007, it became part of all initial teacher training programmes as an important aspect of professional development and was updated again in 2016.

The new version of the Minimum Core (2022) aims to focus on the core skills trainee teachers need to support learners with necessary skills on their foundation, technical or academic course. It is not intended as a box ticking exercise for leaders, employers or teacher educators to make judgements on trainees or staff. Rather, its main purpose is to promote awareness and reflection. 

Trainee teachers can use the content of the new Guidance to reflect on their own practice, gain evidence towards the various criteria, and to start meaningful searches for resources or activities to address any identified gaps.

The minimum core (from 2022) aims to:

  • clarify the expected minimum level of further education teachers in the relevant areas

  • emphasise that learners may need to be supported in all these skills for them to achieve their qualification

  • encourage the development of inclusive practices to meet the needs of all learners

  • promote collaborative practice between vocational and technical specialists and English, maths, digital skills, sustainability and EDI specialists

  • provide links to useful reading, resources and CPD activities to support teachers’ own skills and those of their learners.

A new Diploma commences September 2024. It will be called the Diploma in Teaching (FE and Skills) and will NOT include the minimum core.

Minimum Core guidance

The Education and Training Foundation have produced guidance to help teachers to demonstrate their skills and knowledge: The Minimum Core for teacher training qualifications for the Further Education and Skills sector (2022). The guidance is in two parts: Part One and Part Two.

Part One details the elements and objectives (what 'a teacher should' do - as in the second column in the table) regarding the minimum core.

The Minimum Core elements are:

  • English
  • mathematics
  • digital skills
  • sustainability
  • equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI).

Each element is linked to an objective which defines what a teacher should do, and how they might evidence their knowledge, understanding and skills. These are referenced from A to G for each of the elements, and are in categories (as listed below). 

Within each of the elements are the following categories:

A  planning your teaching
B  approaches to teaching
C  supporting learners to develop employability skills
D  subject and industry specific teaching
E  assessment (and feedback)
F  accessibility and inclusion
G  self-development.

The elements are areas that every further education teacher should know, understand and be able to use for each category. The objectives can be used as a guide as to how to demonstrate skills and knowledge for each element.

See the table for an extract which relates to the element of 'English' in the category of 'Planning your teaching'.

You can see an extract in the table of the element 'English' for the category 'Planning your teaching'. The column headed 'A teacher should' lists the objectives.

If you are working towards a teaching qualification at level 4 or above, you will need to demonstrate your skills and knowledge of the minimum core in all elements and categories. 

Part Two of the guidance gives examples of approaches and weblinks which can be used to support each of the categories.

Demonstrating proficiency of the minimum core skills will help to ensure that you carry out your role professionally, and support your learners adequately with their own skills in these areas. 

You can document how you have achieved these by using a checklist - scroll down the page for a downloadable resource.

Please refer to the ETF guidance The Minimum Core for teacher training qualifications for the Further Education and Skills sector (2022) for full information regarding the minimum core.

Support for the minimum core

Demonstrating the minimum core

If you are working towards a teaching qualification, for example the Certificate or Diploma in Education and Training, you are required to demonstrate the minimum core skills throughout your teaching practice. This can be achieved by using the tables in Part One of the Minimum Core Guidance (2022). The columns headed 'A teacher should' give examples of how you can do this. A checklist is available for you to document your skills, scroll towards the end of the page.

If you wish to apply for QTLS status, you will need to evidence your literacy and numeracy skills to at least level two.   

However, the minimum core should really apply to everyone, not just those taking a teaching qualification or applying for QTLS status.

All trainers, assessors and anyone who supports the teaching, learning and assessment process should ideally be proficient in the minimum core skills. 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 may need to be prepared to meet the needs of your learners whose levels of literacy, language, numeracy and digital skills might otherwise jeopardise or hinder their learning. You can read about embedding these skills during your sessions here.

As a teacher, trainer and/or assessor, you 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 FELTAG Report Paths forward to a digital future for Further Education and Skills (2014) recommended 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 might 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.

Scroll to the end of this page for downloadable minimum core resources and a checklist. 

English, maths and digital skills

There will be opportunities to help improve the English, maths and digital skills of your learners at some point during their learning programme. Ways to do this include embedding the skills as part of your specialist subject, rather than treating them as separate subjects. 

However, the minimum core is about demonstrating your own skills and knowledge and you might need to update these first. This might involve taking a course or working towards a qualification. The Education and Training Foundation have many online free and subsidised courses.

The example below is how you can demonstrate your knowledge and skills regarding the category: 'planning your teaching', for the minimum core elements of 'English, maths and digital skills'. 


Researching and explaining personal, cultural and linguistic factors that may enhance or inhibit the development of English skills. Interpreting initial and diagnostic assessment data if available, or drawing on learner profiles and then amending schemes of work, teaching plans/lesson plans) to meet the needs of individual learners. Identifying potential barriers to effective communication in programme design and delivery and taking steps to overcome them (e.g. allowing time to teach specific vocabulary, plan written work, prepare verbal and visual presentations). 


Researching and explaining personal, cultural and linguistic factors that may enhance or inhibit the development of maths skills. Recognising common signs of maths anxiety and putting strategies in place to help overcome this. Analysing maths requirements of own learning programme and relating to GCSE/Functional Skills maths. Using this to plan and design learning, structure lessons and present ideas.

Digital skills

Using online search strategies to identify resources and content relevant for teaching and learning. Being aware of digital environments which provide educational resources. When planning sessions, include learning activities, assignments and assessments that encourage learners to use digital technologies to find data or information.


This applies to everything you and your learners do, and aims to meet the needs of future generations whilst considering the planet and the environment. You should be able to equip your learners with the knowledge, skills, behaviours, values and attitudes needed to recognise and solve sustainability challenges.

Sustainability is about climate change, as well as how to use social structures and social responsibility to promote a good quality of life and economic prosperity for all. You can find out more information from the Education and Training Foundation.

You are probably aware of the terms: reuse; recycle; and reduce waste. These are aspects you might need to demonstrate as part of the Minimum Core. Other terms include: repurpose; regift, repair and rethink.

The United Nations states “Sustainable development requires an integrated approach that takes into consideration environmental concerns along with economic development.” Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) allows every human being to acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values necessary to shape a sustainable future. Take a look at their website to find out more. 

Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)

EDI is about promoting the ethics and values of human rights; equality; diversity and inclusion throughout the teaching and learning process. You should be able to recognise and take seriously how inequalities and injustice–poverty; prejudice; discrimination; and violence create trauma, and how they limit life chances. 

The learning environment should support equality; diversity and inclusion, and ensure that lighting; sound; heating and distractions can all support access and inclusiveness. The physical space and seating should enable learners to feel comfortable and safe, and enable them to socially interact and not be socially excluded.

It's also important to know how knowledge and skills can impact on your learners' attainment; destinations; life chances and success in employment, and to keep up with the requirements of equality and human rights and related legislation.

You should appreciate the diversity of people and values in society: that there will always be ignored existing inequality (such as social class) and new and emerging inequalities.

Learning opportunities should be inclusive (noting the difference between inclusion and inclusive) and embedded in practice throughout your subject specialism. 

It's good to use specific EDI related events and celebrations, as well as naturally occurring moments to create discussions within your teaching. You can find some resources to support equality and diversity here.

Minimum core resources available for immediate download

Handout - The minimum core (£1.50) (Ref D922D)

6 pages covering:

· What is the minimum core? · Minimum core aims · Minimum Core Guidance · Minimum core table - English · Demonstrating the minimum core · English, maths and digital skills · Sustainability · Equality, diversity and inclusion · Reading list · Website list

PowerPoint - The minimum core (£10.00) (Ref D022D)

21 slides with detailed presenter notes covering:

· What is the minimum core? · Minimum core aims · Minimum Core Guidance · Minimum core table - English · Demonstrating the minimum core · English, maths and digital skills · Sustainability · Equality, diversity and inclusion · Summary quiz · Reading list · Website list

Minimum core checklist (£2.00) (Ref MCC)

A comprehensive 28 page checklist covering the content of the five elements and seven categories in which a teacher (who is working towards the Certificate or Diploma/Cert Ed/PGCE) must demonstrate their skills.

This document is in PDF with space for text to be input electronically. It is based on The Minimum Core for teacher training qualifications for the Further Education and Skills sector (2022). It was produced by Joey Greenwood of Smart Training Solutions Ltd.

  • Resources to support teachers and learners of the teaching qualifications can be found by clicking here.
  • Videos can be seen by clicking here.

  • More resources are available,

    click here for details.