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National Curriculum

Developing personal, learning and thinking skills in ICT


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 ICT programmes of study provide 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 ICT to:

  • plan and carry out their own research and explore their own ideas to develop solutions to issues or problems

  • determine for themselves the information, ICT tools and techniques they need to answer questions and test hypotheses

  • analyse and critically evaluate information, judging its relevance, purpose, accuracy, plausibility, value and possible bias

  • work with increasing independence and apply their competence in new and more challenging contexts.

Creative thinkers

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

  • develop their own ideas, explore possibilities, seek innovative alternatives and make new connections, for example use ICT to model scenarios and identify patterns

  • design their own information systems, adapting and modifying their ideas, for example refining information creatively to combine text, sound and image

  • take increasing personal responsibility for developing how they think and work.

Team workers

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

  • recognise their own strengths and those of others when allocating roles and tasks to achieve effective outcomes, for example when applying ICT to carry out extended tasks

  • explore for themselves how ICT can be used to communicate, collaborate and share ideas on a local, national and global scale

  • show responsibility when using ICT to communicate safely with others

  • provide and respond to constructive feedback, taking account of different views and developing the confidence to resolve issues and achieve their identified goals.


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

  • take personal responsibility for organising their own time and resources, prioritising actions and managing risks to carry out and successfully complete a task, for example using ICT effectively to organise their time and resources

  • use perseverance, initiative and creativity to address challenging tasks

  • make choices about how ICT can support them in their learning and in their life outside school

  • respond positively to new or changing priorities, for example actively embracing the challenges of applying concepts to new or unfamiliar contexts.

Effective participators

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

  • explore how communicating, exchanging and presenting information and ideas in ICT can be a force for change

  • make their own informed contributions to local, national and international issues using ICT for information exchange and access,  for example participating in e-debates

  • negotiate and balance diverse sources of information and views, including their own, making independent decisions to solve issues and problems.

Reflective learners

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

  • reflect critically on available information, for example to take account of its purpose, author, currency and context

  • use and adapt creative ways to communicate their ideas to a range of audiences

  • continuously monitor their own progress, identifying criteria for success and making changes to further their learning.

How do we plan for PLTS?

Effective planning for PLTS in ICT 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 ICT while increasing coherence across the curriculum.

The following are some questions we might ask to support the development of PLTS through ICT.

  • 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 learners to investigate a relevant event or issue in the news, and also to develop learners’ independent enquiry and team-working skills.

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

Learners will work over several lessons to a timeframe and conclude by making a presentation of their findings to their year group.  Working in groups, learners will select an event or issue of interest and relevance. They will take different roles and responsibilities, drawing on individual strengths and ensuring that each group member contributes effectively. They are taught ways of researching, which they develop and use appropriately for the specific area of investigation they have set themselves.

This activity involves learners in:

  • selecting and agreeing on the focus, priorities and timetable for their work, and the allocation of roles and tasks (team workers, self-managers)

  • planning and carrying out research with increasing independence, collecting, manipulating, analysing data and forming conclusions (creative thinkers, team workers)

  • taking responsibility for preparing and delivering the presentation (team workers, effective participators, creative thinkers)

  • discussing different ways of presenting the information for maximum effect, and taking responsibility for preparing and delivering different aspects of the presentation (team workers, self-managers, creative thinkers)

  • evaluating their own performance against criteria, providing and receiving feedback and identifying targets for improvement (reflective learners)

  • working towards a common goal, showing perseverance 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 ICT and how those skills can raise achievement in this subject. For example, learners may demonstrate that they are:

  • making personal choices about their learning and finding ways to improve their work, for example by identifying their own questions and planning their own enquiries

  • being reflective and discriminating when choosing to use technology

  • increasingly drawing on their own experiences to explore how ICT addresses issues that may affect their own lives and the lives of others

  • extending and transferring their understanding, for example in increasingly complex or unfamiliar contexts, exploring new ideas, options and points of view with more confidence and creativity.

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