The Future of ATL

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By Lance G King

As I am sure you are aware, back in 2012 I designed the 10 Cluster model of ATL skills for the MYP and unfortunately, I have had no opportunity since then to review and revise that structure and the 134 skill practices that go with it. There is nothing wrong with the framework but if I was to redo it today I would eliminate all the duplication, simplify the wording and redraft it all in terms of exactly what we want the student to do. But it looks like I won’t have to! I have recently seen some evidence to suggest that the good people in PYP development may have taken my 10 Cluster model of ATL skills and improved upon it to produce a model of ATL skills that they believe will work well in the PYP.

MYP 10 Cluster Model  =>   Possible PYP ATL Model

  1. Communication => Exchanging Information and Literacy
  2. Collaboration => ICT and Interpersonal Relationships, Social/Emotional Intelligence
  3. Organisation => Organisation
  4. Affective Skills => States of Mind
  5. Reflection => Reflection and Metacognition
  6. Information Literacy => Information Literacy
  7. Media Literacy => Media Literacy and Ethical Use of Media and Information
  8. Critical Thinking => Critical Thinking
  9. Creative Thinking => Creative Thinking
  10. Transfer => Information Transfer


I am not directly in the loop on PYP development so I cannot confirm this model but my point is that if this PYP framework, or something like it, does go ahead, then because it includes all the skills from my 10 Cluster model we could harmonise the two into one framework and maybe produce one ATL framework to cover two programmes. And then ATL could become the consistent thread that holds both programmes together.

Of course, then we need to think about ATL in the DP.

I think if we are designing ATL for the DP programme we have to assume that that all the basic skills will be taken care of by then and start by focusing on the additional skills that will advantage DP students both in their DP studies and also when they leave school.


  • “Western” skills for “Eastern” students
  • “Eastern” skills for “Western” students
  • The skills of the self-managed learner
  • Exam skills if they come from a non-exam background

But maybe more importantly if we are looking at preparing these students for adulthood, further education and employment then maybe our ATL programme needs to contain:

  • Entrepreneurial skills
  • People management
  • Time, task and pressure management
  • Leadership skills
  • Financial skills
  • Computational thinking
  • Social media representation and relationship management
  • Problem solving in digital environments

And if we were then to amalgamate all three ATL frameworks into one then suddenly we have the possibility of creating one ATL framework which extends from Grade 1 to 12 from which teachers can pick the skills most appropriate for their students.

Imagine that!

My basic point is that we don’t need  PYP ATL, MYP ATL, DP ATL and CP ATL.  We don’t need more silo mentality, we have enough of that already, what we need is a true continuum, a continuum of ATL skills. One skills framework that all IB schools could design their own complete ATL programme from. And of course, if it was a complete framework then schools that are not IB schools could also use it as a design tool to help them design their own 21st C skills programme.

This is my goal for the next six months – to create a Grade 1–12, 21st C, ATL, skills framework.

Maybe something like this:

  1. Exchanging Information
  2. Literacy
  3. ICT
  4. Interpersonal Relationships, Social and Emotional Intelligence
  5. Organisation
  6. States of Mind
  7. Information Literacy
  8. Media Literacy
  9. Ethical Use of Media/Information
  10. Critical Thinking
  11. Creative Thinking
  12. Information Transfer
  13. Reflection and Metacognition
  14. Entrepreneurial
  15. People management
  16. Time, task and pressure management
  17. Leadership
  18. Financial
  19. Computational thinking
  20. Social media representation and relationship management
  21. Problem solving in digital environments

21 Clusters of 21st C skills, each of which will also be detailed as to all the skill practices it entails – what exactly students need to do to practice every part of each skill.

If it is inclusive and comprehensive enough it will also serve as a framework of thinking and learning skills that any school, anywhere in the world could use as a planning tool no matter what subject  curricula they use.

Then any schools 21st C skills programme can become the thread that holds all levels of curricula together and becomes the most consistent aspect of a child’s school experience!

Many thanks again to Lance King for allowing us the use of this article as part of our informational series on Approaches to Learning Skills!

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