The British Council's work with school systems aims to improve learning outcomes for young people. Research by education experts and academics explains that in order to participate in a global economy, young people need to be equipped with core skills, which supplement the traditional curriculum, subject-focussed approach of many education systems. These are also referred to as deep learning skills, 21st century skills, transversal skills or core skills and competencies, depending on the local/national/regional context.

Gone are the days when there was an effort to balance knowledge and skills. The need of the hour is to supplement knowledge with core skills. It is widely considered that today's young women and men are the most educated generation ever, yet, they make up nearly half of the world's jobless population. 75 million youth are unemployed yet 39% of employers say lack of skills is the main reason for entry level vacancy.

As per the Third Edition of Pearson Voice of Teacher Survey 2015, Indian teachers opine that 57% of students completing their education are not adequately prepared (have the required knowledge, skills, attitude and ethics) for employment. Teachers at the higher education level consider a much larger proportion of students unemployable (64%) vis-à-vis school teachers, who consider 48% students unemployable.60% teachers believe that the current education system contributes to holistic development of learners. However, the system is perceived to have lower efficacy at higher education level (51%) vis-à-vis school level (72%).

The British Council conducted in-depth desk research to identify the most pertinent key skills from the literature and research that are:

  • critical to meeting the needs of students in the 21st century and a globalised economy
  • relevant to the British Council’s Charter
  • relevant to the educational context of the countries and regions where the British Council operates.

British Council consulted a range of stakeholders, drew upon research on the deep pedagogies framework and UNESCO's transversal skills and then decided to focus on supporting teachers develop their pedagogy in the following six core skills and competencies:


Self-directed thinking that produces new and innovative ideas and solves problems. Reflecting critically on learning experiences and processes and making effective decisions.


Communicate effectively orally, in writing, actively listen to others in diverse and multi-lingual environments and understand verbal and non-verbal communication. Work in diverse international teams, learning from and contributing to the learning of others, assuming shared responsibility, cooperating, leading, delegating and compromising to produce new and innovative ideas and solutions.


Economic and social entrepreneurialism, imagining and pursuing novel ideas, judging value, developing innovation and curiosity.


Active, globally-aware citizens who have the skills, knowledge and motivation to address issues of human and environmental sustainability and work towards a fairer world in a spirit of mutual respect and open dialogue. Developing an understanding of what it means to be a citizen of your own country and your own country's values.


Using technology as a tool to reinforce, extend and deepen learning through international collaboration. Enabling the student to discover, master and communicate knowledge and information in a globalised economy.


Honesty, leadership, self-regulation and responsibility, perseverance, empathy for contributing to the safety and benefit of others, self-confidence, pupil voice, resilience, personal health and well-being, career and life skills and learning to learn/life-long learning.


The Compendium of Lesson Designs: Core Skills in Action has been compiled from submission by the teachers who participated in core skills training courses. It comprises learning activities of different age groups and mapped to the core skills as and where applicable. Lesson designs of generic topics have been chosen so that they can be replicated in schools affiliated to a range of boards.

The learning activities are also linked with one or two themes of the sustainable development goals and with the international dimension learning outcomes that are required for collaborative work with another school in a different country. The activities are cross-curricular and usually cover two to three subjects. The learning activities are presented to demonstrate that core skills can easily be embedded into the daily teaching and learning process and do not need to be restricted to specific projects.

The Compendium also has impact stories from schools whose teachers have participated in the core skills workshops and have successfully implemented the learning in the classrooms. The purpose of this publication is to inspire many other teachers to create and deliver lessons that foster skills in the classroom.

The full version of the compendium can be read and downloaded here.