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The Ultimate list of ATL Skills (those I actually care about)

Updated: Aug 21, 2022

Ok so I’m just going to come out and say it. Having a list of 140+ skills that we think matter, and should not only look for in our classes, but actually teach to, is POINTLESS. Sure, it gives someone something to do when we are asked to map them across the curriculum* but what other reason would we have to think that this is a good idea?

In an attempt to hack through the forest of skills and to pare things down a wee bit; I have decided to write down all the skills that I actually care about in my teaching and which I try to look out for in EVERY unit (ok, not all, most, at least some at least).

Why? Because I want them to see what getting better at skills can look like and see what the next step in the journey that needs to be honed, rather than thinking that they have ticked them off. And that’s just the teachers, I also want this from the students too!


(I’d be happy if they could nail just five of these - SPOILER ALERT this is half of the ATL skills I care about)


To be frank there is really only one - yes I know there are such things as library skills but …. Well really there’s only one library skill - find the librarian to help you find what you’re looking for, then thank him/her in a hushed tone


There are as far as I am concerned only two generic thinking skills. Critical thinking skills are governed by the approaches dictated by the disciplines and we have this covered in our Assessment Criteria so they get done.


Again let’s keep this simple


So I’ll admit it, I am sitting on one more for a magic 10 and, well, since it sits there within our reach .... let’s take the offer and round this list off to a satisfyingly manageable number of skills** worth teaching until we get good at them!

You will see in this reduced list I haven’t included such skills as learning to have a growth mindset or wellbeing as a skill one develops. This is mainly because I don’t see either of them as a skill. I see them as an attitude, something one has or chooses not to have. In fact all attitudes and characters have not made it onto this list. It is not that I don’t think they matter, in fact the opposite is true. I simply think that these things just cannot be taught; they can only be caught by the culture we create in our classrooms.

*There is absolutely no requirement to map all 140+ skills across any curriculum, only that you show that you are teaching these skills and mapping what is taught. My argument is: if we mapped only these 10 skills we could highlight priorities and even map progress in them.

**Perhaps a reader might spot a big name skill I have forgotten, or I wake in the middle of the night with something obvious and we move to 11. Full disclosure, if that happens I’ll be hanging out for another one to make for a more attractive 12 and close the blog before we hit 13 and the whole project unravels.

Subversive or helpful? Please let me know

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