What are PLTS?

The personal learning and thinking skills are in six groups:

  • independent enquirers

  • creative thinkers

  • reflective learners

  • team workers

  • self-managers

  • effective participants.

For each group of skills, a focus statement sums up the range of skills and qualities involved. This is accompanied by a set of outcome statements that describe the relevant skills, behaviours and personal qualities.

Each group of skills is distinctive and coherent. The groups are also interconnected and learners are likely to encounter skills from several groups in any one learning experience. For example, an independent enquirer sets goals for their research with clear success criteria (reflective learner) and organises their time and resources effectively to achieve these goals (self-manager). To develop independence, learners need to apply skills from all six groups in a wide range of contexts.

Independent enquirers


Young people process and evaluate information in their investigations, planning what to do and how to go about it. They take informed and well-reasoned decisions, recognising that others have different beliefs and attitudes.

Skills, behaviours and personal qualities

Young people:

  • identify questions to answer and problems to resolve

  • plan and carry out research, appreciating the consequences of decisions

  • explore issues, events or problems from different perspectives

  • analyse and evaluate information, judging its relevance and value

  • consider the influence of circumstances, beliefs and feelings on decisions and events

  • support conclusions, using reasoned arguments and evidence.

Creative thinkers


Young people think creatively by generating and exploring ideas, making original connections. They try different ways to tackle a problem, working with others to find imaginative solutions and outcomes that are of value.

Skills, behaviours and personal qualities

Young people:

  • generate ideas and explore possibilities

  • ask questions to extend their thinking

  • connect their own and others’ ideas and experiences in inventive ways

  • question their own and others’ assumptions

  • try out alternatives or new solutions and follow ideas through

  • adapt ideas as circumstances change.

Reflective learners


Young people evaluate their strengths and limitations, setting themselves realistic goals with criteria for success. They monitor their own performance and progress, inviting feedback from others and making changes to further their learning.

Skills, behaviours and personal qualities

Young people:

  • assess themselves and others, identifying opportunities and achievements

  • set goals with success criteria for their development and work

  • review progress, acting on the outcomes

  • invite feedback and deal positively with praise, setbacks and criticism

  • evaluate experiences and learning to inform future progress

  • communicate their learning in relevant ways for different audiences.

Team workers


Young people work confidently with others, adapting to different contexts and taking responsibility for their own part. They listen to and take account of different views. They form collaborative relationships, resolving issues to reach agreed outcomes.

Skills, behaviours and personal qualities

Young people:

  • collaborate with others to work towards common goals 

  • reach agreements, managing discussions to achieve results 

  • adapt behaviour to suit different roles and situations, including leadership roles 

  • show fairness and consideration to others 

  • take responsibility, showing confidence in themselves and their contribution 

  • provide constructive support and feedback to others.



Young people organise themselves, showing personal responsibility, initiative, creativity and enterprise with a commitment to learning and self-improvement. They actively embrace change, responding positively to new priorities, coping with challenges and looking for opportunities.

Skills, behaviours and personal qualities

Young people:

  • seek out challenges or new responsibilities and show flexibility when priorities change

  • work towards goals, showing initiative, commitment and perseverance

  • organise time and resources, prioritising actions

  • anticipate, take and manage risks

  • deal with competing pressures, including personal and work-related demands

  • respond positively to change, seeking advice and support when needed

  • manage their emotions, and build and maintain relationships.

Effective participators


Young people actively engage with issues that affect them and those around them. They play a full part in the life of their school, college, workplace or wider community by taking responsible action to bring improvements for others as well as themselves.

Skills, behaviours and personal qualities

Young people:

  • discuss issues of concern, seeking resolution where needed

  • present a persuasive case for action

  • propose practical ways forward, breaking these down into manageable steps

  • identify improvements that would benefit others as well as themselves

  • try to influence others, negotiating and balancing diverse views to reach workable solutions

  • act as an advocate for views and beliefs that may differ from their own.