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National Curriculum

Developing personal, learning and thinking skills in personal wellbeing


What are we trying to achieve?

The new secondary curriculum focuses on developing the skills and qualities that learners need to succeed in school and the broader community. The development of personal, learning and thinking skills (PLTS) is essential to meeting the three national curriculum aims of becoming successful learners, confident individuals and responsible citizens.

The individual subjects, which make up the curriculum, provide the essential range of activities, learning opportunities and contexts essential for the effective development of these skills (PLTS).

The framework comprises of six PLTS:

  • independent enquirers

  • creative thinkers

  • team workers

  • self-managers

  • effective participators

  • reflective learners.

PLTS underpin the whole curriculum and can transform young people’s engagement with learning. They support learners’ understanding of themselves as well as their relationship with others and the world around them. Effective development of PLTS can raise achievement and make a considerable impact on learners’ ability to succeed, both now and in adult life.


How do we develop PLTS?

The personal wellbeing programme of study provides a rich and exciting range of opportunities to develop PLTS as an integral part of subject teaching and learning. Explicit and implicit opportunities are present in the key concepts, key processes, range and content, and curriculum opportunities.

Independent enquirers

Learners can develop as independent enquirers when they are provided with opportunities in personal wellbeing to:

  • structure their own investigations to research answers to questions they have formulated about safety and health or issues around local health services provision

  • decide how to gather, analyse, interpret and evaluate evidence, recognising bias and inaccuracies in information and reach their own, well-reasoned conclusions

  • explore issues from different and personal perspectives, taking responsibility for choices and actions, for example in discussions of personal, social and moral dilemmas

  • become increasingly independent in their enquiries and apply what they have learned to new and more challenging contexts.

Creative thinkers

Learners can develop as creative thinkers when they are provided with opportunities in personal wellbeing to:

  • use scenarios, simulations and dramas to explore situations that may occur in their lives and generate their own ideas on how to respond, for example in resisting negative pressure or reducing risks to their health

  • use their experiences and relate to those of others, think creatively about making responsible choices and decisions, for example about relationships or lifestyles

  • develop their confidence to challenge assumptions, try new ideas and face issues safely.

Team workers

Learners can develop as team workers when they are provided with opportunities in personal wellbeing to:

  • recognise their own strengths and those of others to allocate roles and tasks and take responsibility for their own contribution, for example in solving a dispute or organising a meeting

  • explore for themselves how social skills of communication, negotiation, assertiveness and collaboration can provide solutions to issues and challenges within relationships

  • provide and respond to constructive feedback to resolve issues, complete tasks and achieve their identified goals.


Learners can develop as self-managers when they are provided with opportunities in personal wellbeing to:

  • take responsibility for their own choices and behaviour, and manage risk in personal situations

  • take personal responsibility for organising their time and resources, prioritising actions to carry out and complete a task

  • address challenging issues and tasks, for example those that may require the management of strong feelings and emotions.

Effective participators

Learners can develop as effective participators when they are provided with opportunities in personal wellbeing to:

  • meet, work, and discuss issues of concern with people from the wider community, for example through visits and visiting speakers

  • explore for themselves how to challenge prejudice and discrimination, and demonstrate a respect for diversity and difference

  • participate in discussions to influence others and identify how to take responsible action in relation to issues that affect them and those around them

  • consider alternatives and act as an advocate for views and beliefs, even those that may differ from their own.

Reflective learners

Learners can develop as reflective learners when they are provided with opportunities in personal wellbeing to:

  • reflect on their values, strengths, achievements and areas for development, and on ways to express and manage their feelings and emotions

  • learn how to give and receive constructive praise, reflecting and commenting on the values, attitudes and behaviours of others

  • identify and plan for their own realistic goals, recognising how adapting and refining their emotions and behaviour can make for enhanced outcomes

  • continuously monitor their own progress, engaging personally with issues of concern relevant to their lives.


How do we plan for PLTS?

Effective planning for PLTS in personal wellbeing needs to ensure that they are embedded into sequences of work, teaching approaches and learning outcomes. When this is done well, it will enrich the experiences of learners and support their progress in personal wellbeing while increasing coherence across the curriculum.

The following are some questions we might ask to support the development of PLTS through personal wellbeing:

  • Are there planned opportunities for learning and teaching, where the six PLTS can be taught, practised and reinforced in a range of contexts?

  • Are planned experiences sufficiently ‘open’ for learners to draw on personal experiences and set themselves personal challenges?

  • Do activities encourage learners to explore a range of settings, for example collaborative work, individual work, in the classroom, the school and events in the community?

  • Are learners encouraged to communicate in a variety of ways?

  • Are there opportunities to make coherent links to learning in other curriculum areas to effectively connect and enhance learners’ experiences?

  • Are e-technologies used effectively to enable and support such learning?


The teacher plans for the class to investigate issues around alcohol misuse by young people in the local community, and to develop learners’ enquiry and team-working skills.

It is important for the learners to develop the skills to become increasingly independent, make decisions and take responsibility for the direction and format of their work.

Working in groups, they will take different roles and responsibilities, drawing on individual strengths and ensuring that each group member contributes effectively. Learners are taught ways of researching, which they develop and use appropriately for the investigation they plan themselves. To develop their understanding of the issues they have identified, they are encouraged to discuss the emotions, behaviours and attitudes of different community members such as older people, faith groups, police and so on.

Learners will work over several lessons to a timeframe and conclude with a presentation to their year group, highlighting the issues they have identified. The presentations will be evaluated by the learners for creativity of presentation, usefulness of information and effectiveness of message using a proforma of criteria that they have designed and agreed themselves.

This activity involves the learners in:

  • deciding on a format and approach to the presentation and dividing up roles (team workers, self-managers)

  • identifying and researching the key questions and issues involved, and discussing the range of values and attitudes towards alcohol use and misuse that they might encounter in their research (independent enquirers, team workers)

  • discussing ways of analysing and presenting the research for maximum effect, for example using role play, drama, visual material, visitors (team workers, self-managers, creative thinkers)

  • taking responsibility for preparing different aspects of the research and presentation, and giving constructive feedback to others in the group (effective participators, team workers, self-managers)

  • delivering the presentation and answer-related questions (team workers)

  • evaluating their performances, taking account of feedback from peers and teachers, and setting targets for future improvement (reflective learners)

  • showing perseverence in completing the project on time (team workers, self-managers).


Are we achieving our aims?

In planning for progression, it is important to develop a clear picture of how learners demonstrate PLTS in the context of teaching and learning in personal wellbeing and how those skills can raise achievement in this subject. For example, learners may demonstrate that they are:

  • making and communicating more informed personal choices, for example in relation to adopting a balanced and healthy lifestyle

  • transferring understanding of social and moral dilemmas across different contexts, for example to manage new situations positively

  • increasingly drawing on their own experiences and making connections to develop insights, for example to develop their own values and attitudes

  • engaging with and applying their knowledge and skills beyond school contexts, for example in making positive contributions to their families, schools and communities.

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See also

Here are some useful related resources:

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