Belfast Telegraph

Monday 30 November 2015

'Soft skills' are key to development

By Lisa Smyth

Published 14/09/2007

In primary schools, the revised curriculum will focus on language and literacy, mathematics and numeracy, the arts, the world around us, personal development and mutual understanding and physical education.

In post-primary schools, it will concentrate on language and literacy, mathematics and numeracy, the arts, environment and society, science and technology, learning for life and work, physical education and modern languages.

It is hoped the introduction of Citizenship, Employability, Personal and Social Education and Home Economics will help prepare pupils at post-primary schools for all areas of their adult lives by teaching them 'soft skills'.

An hour a week will be allocated to teaching the four subjects and at St Peter's High School in Londonderry, pupils have participated in a variety of different lessons which cater for the different subjects.


Pupils at St Peter's High School were given a design brief and had three days to design a new type of trainer to be sold in the city. They formed teams and received advice on areas such as the structure of a business and entrepreneurship.

Principal Martin Bowen explained: "At the end of the three days, the parents came into the school and the pupils gave presentations. Through this project, they improved their literacy, numeracy and ICT skills."


Pupils are encouraged to consider the idea of citizenship and learn skills such as consideration and empathy.

One very simple way of achieving this has been put into place at St Peter's where pupils must wait for 10 seconds before they can put their hand up to answer a question.

"This means that everyone in the class gets the opportunity to contribute," said Mr Bowen.

Personal and social education

Pupils learn important life skills while using local resources. As part of lessons, they might tour the local courthouse or police station and receive lessons on how local government operates.

Mr Bowen explained: "The revised curriculum is all about using local resources that are relevant to the pupils. One idea I have had is to use the graveyard next to the school so that we can teach the pupils what happens when someone dies and how you go about making practical preparations for a funeral."

Home economics

Rather than concentrating on cooking, pupils are taught about nutrition, value for money and the importance of healthy eating.

"It prepares them for leaving home which is very important, especially in an all-boy school like this," said Mr Bowen.

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