Thinking Skills & Personal Capabilities

Thinking Skills & Personal Capabilities

About Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities

All parts of the curriculum emphasise the development of Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities (TS&PC).

The TS&PC framework diagram shows how these skills and capabilities interlink and overlap. Click the '+' icons to read more on each aspect of TS&PC.

The skills and capabilities that the Northern Ireland Curriculum promotes are embedded in subjects within the Areas of Learning. The TS&PC framework brings together a range of Thinking Skills, attitudes and dispositions towards learning and personal and interpersonal skills. Effective teaching will develop these skills informally and implicitly.

However, TS&PC help pupils to progress by explicitly emphasising their acquisition of skills. This includes becoming more skilful in applying knowledge and understanding specific to the context for the learning, and in learning how to learn.

The materials we have included on these pages expand on the framework diagram. They provide advice and guidance on using the infusion approach to improve learning outcomes for pupils of all ages.


Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities (TS&PC) are included in the Northern Ireland Curriculum because, like the education systems in other jurisdictions, there is an ongoing drive to improve educational outcomes.

Teachers also want to see their pupils make progress in their learning. For pupils to get better at a subject, they also need to get better at thinking and become more skilful in performing the TS&PC that are relevant to that subject.

It is up to the teacher to decide how to guide pupils to think more skilfully. It is important to plan pupils’ learning experiences. This should include planning the content of lessons and how pupils will achieve the lesson’s learning outcomes.

The Northern Ireland Curriculum recommends that teachers connect skilful thinking with subject knowledge and understanding. To develop skilful thinking, pupils need a meaningful context for their learning. The infusion approach involves incorporating skilful thinking into lesson delivery.

Research evidence supports the teaching and learning approaches that TS&PC recommend. For more information about the background to the TS&PC, visit the Resources and Useful Links sections.

The Infusion Approach to Teaching Thinking

We can describe teaching thinking as a continuum. The extreme left concentrates on the processes of cognition without referring to the subject’s characteristic modes of thinking.

Teaching thinking

The extreme right ignores any explicit attention to thinking and considers only the subject content.

Teaching only content

For pupils to make progress in the subject you are teaching, they need to know both:

  • the content knowledge; and
  • how to use the techniques, procedures and established methods for that subject.

Infusion means planning how you will guide pupils towards thinking with skill.

Continuum of approaches to teaching thinking

For more information on using the infusion approach, see the Planning for Infusion section.