Essential Digital Skills CPD programme

EDS Case studies #EDSpractice

EDS CPD Programme: Manchester Adult Education Service

The digital skills team at Manchester Adult Education Service (MAES) has just started delivering Essential Digital Skills Qualifications (EDSQs) with the Gateway awarding body after running five pilot courses. Read the story of their journey with reflections on lessons learned.

EDS CPD Programme: Weymouth College

When the first lockdown was introduced in the Covid-19 pandemic, Weymouth College staff had to adopt remote teaching in line with colleges up and down the country. James Foster, the College’s Quality Manager, was determined to support staff to improve their digital skills and use of educational technology (EdTech) and has introduced the ETF’s Enhance Digital Teaching Platform to staff across the organisation. Read their #EDSpractice story.

EDS CPD Programme: Barnsley Adult Skills and Community Learning Service

Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council’s adult skills and community learning (ASCL) service made it a priority to offer the new digital entitlement to Barnsley residents as soon as it became available in September 2020. They have found that an introductory course has been necessary to scaffold learners’ skills and confidence up to Entry 3 level and have now had success in helping learners to achieve EDSQs. Read their#EDSpractice story.

EDS CPD Programme: New City College

New City College took part in the initial consultation by the Gateway awarding body which aimed to explore what the Essential Digital Skills Qualifications (EDSQs) based on the new national standards should look like. This is the story of a strategic whole-college approach to implementing EDSQs at Entry 3 and Level 1. Read their #EDSpractice story.

EDS CPD Programme: Islington Adult Community Learning Service

At Islington Adult Community Learning (ACL) Service, staff have launched their first Essential Digital Skills Qualification (EDSQ) Entry Level 3 course using the Gateway awarding body and are now preparing to deliver the Level 1 programme. They have also commissioned ESOL tutors to design and deliver introductory courses of four weeks with bespoke resources to help learners reach a level where they can access the Essential Digital Skills (EDS) courses. Read their #EDSpractice story.

EDS CPD Programme: Coventry City Council Adult Education Service

Coventry City Council Adult Education Service (AES) has been running pilot courses for the new Essential Digital Skills Qualifications (EDSQs). They have run two pilot courses so far and are now undertaking a third in the summer term 2021 before moving into full delivery in September. Due to the delay in their awarding body (TLM) receiving authorisation by Ofsted for EDSQs, they decided in the interim to run non-accredited pilot programmes. Read their #EDSpractice story

EDS CPD Programme: Adult Community Learning Essex

The ESOL team at Adult Community Learning Essex (ACL Essex) has been preparing to embed the new Essential Digital Skills Qualifications (EDSQs) in their ESOL provision by developing an introductory course for lower level ESOL learners. This is the story of the team’s progress to date, reflecting on successes, challenges and next steps. Read their #EDSpractice story.

EDS CPD Programme: Swindon Borough Council Adult Community Learning Service

Swindon Borough Council’s Adult Community Learning Service is focused on supporting targeted Swindon residents to progress in life, work and wellbeing, most have no or low-level qualifications. The team has made embedding and visibility of digital skills alongside maths and English a priority across all provision. This is the story of the distance travelled by the team in embracing digital skills for both staff and learners since 2019. Read their #EDSpractice story


EDS Thought pieces #EDSThoughts

Jo Dixon photoWe talk a lot about digital skills, but digital skills are a means to an end: they enable people to engage in digital practices. Our own digital practices – the ways in which we habitually use digital technology ourselves – can lead us to make assumptions about how ‘everybody’ should be taught to use digital technology.

In the first of a series of Essential Digital Skills thought pieces by authors from across the sector, Jo Dixon draws on her own experience supporting digital skills development amongst teachers and adult learners of ESOL to show how exploring learners’ current practices can help learners develop digital skills in small steps.

Read ‘Supporting digital skills: the importance of understanding and valuing everyday digital practices’ and join the conversation on social media by using #EDSThoughts.

Helen Milner headshotThe Covid-19 pandemic has both exposed a deep digital divide that has existed for decades and it exacerbated inequality by leaving millions of people cut off from essential services and support as well as human contact with loved ones. In the second of a series of Essential Digital Skills ‘Thought Pieces’, Group Chief Executive for the Good Things Group in the UK and Australia Helen Milner OBE argues that digital inclusion can no longer be seen as a nice to have – it’s now a need to have.

Read ‘Learning digital skills and closing the digital divide’ and join the conversation on social media by using #EDSThoughts.

Photo of Mel ColemanWhen thinking about teaching digital skills, whether directly as an Essential Digital Skills (EDS) course or embedded into other courses and subjects, it is also important to think about the skills and experiences of the teaching staff who will deliver these qualifications and develop these skills in our learners. In the third of a series of Essential Digital Skills ‘Thought Pieces’, Mel Coleman of South Thames Colleges Group explain what she has discovered.

Read ‘Upskilling staff – a cultural shift’ and join the conversation on social media by using #EDSThoughts.

Emma Weston PortraitIn the fourth of a series of Essential Digital Skills ‘Thought Pieces’, Emma Weston OBE of Digital Unite argues that not only do practitioners need to think about how developing their learners’ digital skills will develop their learning capacity overall, they must also address the more pressing pandemic-provoked question of how they do this remotely. Looking ahead, she considers what other opportunities the pandemic-influenced digital skills response might provoke for practitioners and for learners.

Read ‘What can we learn from the experience of Digital Champions working remotely? How have they continued to engage and support learners?’ and join the conversation on social media by using #EDSThoughts.

Mary MossThis article, by Mary Moss, a member of the ETF’s Essential Digital Skills CPD support programme delivery team, reviews some of the current literature to gain an understanding of what constitutes effective digital practice.

Read ‘Effective practice in teaching essential digital skills – an account of a rapid literature review’ and join the conversation on social media by using #EDSThoughts.

In the fifth of a series of Essential Digital Skills ‘Thought Pieces’, Novus Digital Learning Lead Steve Grix focuses on the importance of digital skills to learners in the Prison Education Framework.

Read ‘The Third Functional Skill: We should embed digital skills in all learning activities’ and join the conversation on social media by using #EDSThoughts.

Dr Sue Pember CBEDr Sue Pember CBE, Policy Director for Holex, considers the increased importance of digital skills for adult learners as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the challenges that must be overcome, including how and by whom they can be most effectively taught.

Read ‘Entitlement for Essential Digital Skills (EDS) Qualifications – Adult and Community Education’ and join the conversation on social media by using #EDSThoughts.

Emma LangloisEmma Langlois, Digital Skills and Preparation for Work Curriculum Manager at Manchester Adult Education, reflects on the lessons that have been learned during the implementation of its Digital Skills for Beginners course.

Read “Delivering foundation digital skills to beginner learners” and join the conversation on social media by using #EDSThoughts.

Sarah KnightSarah Knight, Head of Learning and Teaching Transformation at Jisc, looks at the findings of its recent research on learners’ experiences and expectations of digital learning and asks what can be learnt from them.

Read “What is an effective digital experience for learners?” and join the conversation on social media by using #EDSThoughts.

Alex StevensonDrawing on research with ESOL practitioners in formal and informal settings, Head of Essential and Life Skills at Learning and Work Institute Alex Stevenson reflects on the links between basic digital skills and other basic skills, including literacy and ESOL.

Read “Effective digital skills teaching in the context of digital exclusion: ESOL and non-formal learning” and join the conversation on social media by using #EDSThoughts.




The Department for Education (DfE) has introduced a new Essential Digital Skills (EDS) framework and associated national standards, which set out essential digital skills for life and work.

As of September 2020, adults aged 19+ with no or low digital skills are now entitled to take EDS qualifications free of charge under the Adult Education Budget, in line with existing entitlements for English and maths.

The new standards cover five areas:

  1. Using devices and handling information – using devices, finding and evaluating information, managing and storing information, identifying and solving technical problems
  2. Creating and editing – creating and editing documents and digital media, processing numerical data
  3. Communicating – communicating, sharing and managing traceable online activities
  4. Transacting – using online services, buying securely online
  5. Being safe and responsible online – protecting privacy and data, being responsible online, digital wellbeing.

ETF Enhance EDS Diagram

In 2019, DfE commissioned the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) to deliver the start of blended CPD programme to prepare teachers, trainers and leaders to deliver the new qualifications based on the standards. The ETF commissioned a team led by Sero Consulting with DESQ, Angela Sanders and SkillsLogic to deliver the programme, which was designed around a blended training model with four modes of delivery:

  • An interactive self-assessment tool to identify training needs, linked to training modules to respond to the differentiated spiky skills gap profiles of practitioners.
  • A series of 20 short online learning modules with teaching exemplars and advice on teaching contexts, as well as digital badges to recognise achievement.
  • Face-to-face training and online webinars to build confidence and share practice related to different teaching contexts.
  • Online community of practice to offer peer-to-peer support.

All online elements of the programme are hosted on the ETF’s Enhance Digital Teaching Platform alongside the ETF’s Educational Technology (EdTech) offer based on the Digital Teaching Professional Framework.

The first phase of the EDS workforce development programme was fully launched on 17 February 2020 and concluded on 31 March. It proved popular and interest in the online resources has continued.

The second phase of the Essential Digital Skills CPD programme has now launched, delivered by the same team and responding to feedback from the sector (click below for more information).

Essential Digital Skills CPD programme

A rich and diverse programme of training and professional development has been designed including the following core elements:


  • Understanding the EDS CPD programme for teachers/managers
  • EDS for leaders (Training the trainers)
  • Exploring EDS pathway-specific delivery: ESOL, Offender Learning, Preparation for Life and Work and SEND
  • Skills-focused sessions covering the five skills areas in the national standards

Community of practice:

  • Animating an online EDS community of practice
  • Engaging expert contributions including for pathway-specific areas
  • Running a number of live exchanges addressing Q&A topics

Pedagogy and evidence-based practice programme:

  • Roundtabe discussions and associated ‘thought pieces’ to foster discussion
  • Case studies to illustrate pedagogy and effective delivery of EDS
  • Pathway specific meetups for people working in ESOL, Offender Learning, Preparation for Life and Work and SEND contexts

EDS Pathways Diagram Graphic

Initially all CPD events will be hosted online but it is hoped to run some face-to-face events from January 2021 onwards.

To see the CPD events currently available and to book your place, please visit the ETF booking system.

The programme is supported by an Advisory Group including members of the original Consultation Group which helped to inform the design of the programme. The Advisory Group includes representatives from all the pathways indicated above.

All elements of the programme are fully-funded by the Department for Education and are therefore free to the sector.

Management Dashboard

For providers wishing to take advantage of the online Essential Digital Skills offer on the Enhance Digital Teaching Platform, there is a new Management Dashboard facility to enable tracking and reporting on staff progress completing EDS self-assessments and modules and gaining digital badges. This enables providers to harness the free resources on the platform as part of a structured CPD programme.

Subscription to the Management Dashboard is currently free for a period up to 31 January 2021. To subscribe please visit the ETF booking site.

Communication Tools

The following assets are available to help you raise awareness about the essential digital skills professional development programme in your organisation:

To keep in touch with the programme developments, please contact Sero Consulting.