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Our SECRET Skills

Skills – essential tools that are learned through practice

  • Skills underpin ALL learning.  It is impossible to have any lesson or any learning taking place that does not involve both skills and knowledge working together.
  • Some skills such as the ability to read, write, count and communicate are seen as core and are set as the priority for primary and secondary schools through English and Maths.
  • Some skills are specific to one field of learning such as map reading skills, volleyball etc.
  • The remaining skills are useful across numerous fields of learning.  The SECRET skills model is the most comprehensive description of these and appears in summary below. 
SECRET Skill Cognitive Strategic Emotional Social
Self-Management Manage Risk Be Organised Go for it, Finish it! (Resilience) Manage Emotions
Effective Participation Persuade Others Find Solutions Identify Issues Get Involved
Creative Thinking Imagine Make Links Take Creative Risks Question Assumptions
Reflective Learning Set Yourself Challenges Plan-Do-Review Invite Feedback Share Learning
Enquiry Explore a Question Evaluate Evidence Stay Objective Reach Conclusions
Team Working Take Responsibility Manage the team Build team strengths Evaluate the team

Please download this document which contains a full progression ladder for each of these skills


  • SECRET skills are integrated into lessons when teachers intentionally require them in their choice of learning activity.  For example, a teacher may intentionally use a group activity as a way of addressing a skills gap for pupils who find it difficult to work collaboratively.
  • The balance of skills, knowledge and concepts varies from subject to subject. 
  • In the Early Years classroom the skills are formally teacher assessed and reported on nationally.  These skills are called the Characteristics of Effective Learning (COEL).
  • Coaching regularly is often seen as the most effective teaching method for developing and maintaining skills.
  • Knowing how to approach the application of skills in each subject is called ‘Disciplinary Knowledge’.  Subjects should adapt the SECRET skills statements to how a Scientist (for example) evaluates evidence, finds solutions etc. and then formally build this disciplinary knowledge and regular practice into the curriculum.