Core Competencies

The Core Competencies are sets of intellectual, personal, and social and emotional proficiencies that all students need in order to engage in deep, lifelong learning. Along with literacy and numeracy foundations, they are central to British Columbia’s K-12 curriculum and assessment system and directly support students in their growth as educated citizens.

Students develop Core Competencies when they are engaged in the “doing” – the Curricular Competencies – within a learning area. As such, they are an integral part of the curriculum. While they manifest themselves uniquely in each area of learning, the Core Competencies are often interconnected and are foundational to all learning.

Before students enter school, development of Core Competencies begins at home and then continues throughout their life. Students encounter opportunities to develop their competence in formal and informal settings. They move from demonstrating competence in relatively simple and highly supported situations, to demonstrating independence in more complex and varied contexts. Competency development does not end with school graduation but continues in personal, social, educational, and workplace contexts.

Students, teachers, and parents/guardians share responsibility for the ongoing development of Core Competencies. Each group has its own considerations.

BC's Curriculum Core Competencies
  • Discussing the Core Competencies with peers, teachers, and family can deepen students’ understanding of the Core Competencies and help them identify personal strengths and establish goals for further development as educated citizens
  • Examining the illustrations helps students develop an appreciation of the different ways, forms, and contexts in which the Core Competencies can be applied
  • The illustrations connect the Core Competencies with students’ own classroom experiences and bring the profiles to life for them
  • Students are responsible for assessing their own growth in the Core Competencies. The profiles linked with each sub-competency can serve as a helpful guide in this self-assessment
  • Teachers can use the sub-competency profiles and illustrations to support students in their growth as educated citizens
  • Providing students with meaningful tasks and activities, where they can explicitly reflect on where and how they are using the Core Competencies, will further their development in Communication, Thinking, and Personal and Social. The illustrations for each sub-competency provide examples of rich tasks, activities, and feedback
  • The Core Competencies are embedded within the curriculum and are naturally supported when students engage with the Big Ideas and Curricular Competencies in each area of learning. Examples of explicit connections with Big Ideas can be found in the “Connection” section for each sub-competency
  • Teachers support students in assessing their own growth in the Core Competencies. (For more information on assessment and the Core Competencies, please see Classroom Assessment and Reporting)
  • Students develop Core Competencies at home as well as at school, making parent/guardian support for students’ growing awareness, understanding, and development of the Core Competencies crucial
  • Parents/guardians will likely already have some understanding of their students’ development in Communication, Thinking, and Personal and Social
  • Formal school tasks and activities often look different from the more informal tasks students are involved in at home. While both contexts are valuable, parents/guardians can expect that a student’s use of the Core Competencies may look very different in these two contexts
  • The illustrations offer examples from a variety of contexts and can provide parents/guardians with a new lens through which to view their students’ development as educated citizens

Unpacking the three Core Competencies

Communication -The Communication competency encompasses the knowledge, skills, processes and dispositions we associate with interactions with others. Through their communication, students acquire, develop and transform ideas and information, and make connections with others to share their ideas, express their individuality, further their learning, and get things done. The communication competency is fundamental to finding satisfaction, purpose and joy.

Thinking - The Thinking competency encompasses the knowledge, skills and processes we associate with intellectual development. It is through their competency as thinkers that students take subject-specific concepts and content and transform them into a new understanding. Thinking competence includes specific thinking skills as well as habits of mind, and metacognitive awareness. These are used to process information from a variety of sources, including thoughts and feelings that arise from the subconscious and unconscious mind and from embodied cognition, to create new understandings.

Personal and Social - The Personal and Social competency is the set of abilities that relate to students' identity in the world, both as individuals and as members of their community and society. Personal and social competency encompasses what students need to thrive as individuals, to understand and care about themselves and others, and to find and achieve their purposes in the world.



Sub-competencies are smaller competencies that fit within a Core Competency.

The Core Competencies are interrelated and interdependent and each sub-competency is naturally intertwined with all the other sub-competencies. These connections are explicitly described in the Connections among Core Competencies section included for each sub-competency. As students move through the profiles in one sub-competency, their growth will influence development in other sub-competencies. 


Each sub-competency includes three or four facets. Facets are the unique and interrelated components of the sub-competencies. Students tend to demonstrate multiple facets of a sub-competency at once when completing tasks and actions.


Each sub-competency has a set of six Profiles. Profiles are descriptors of students’ sub-competency development and reflect the interrelated facets of each sub-competency. They are progressive and additive, and they emphasize the concept of expanding and growing. As students move through the profiles, they maintain and enhance competencies from previous profiles while developing new skills. Students may also find themselves reflecting aspects of more than one profile at a time.

It is important to remember that the profiles are not tied to specific grade levels and are reflective of lifelong development.


Illustrations are examples of how B.C. students from diverse backgrounds and communities have demonstrated their developing competence. These examples are varied and can include student work samples, student and teacher reflections, interviews, teacher observations, learning stories, and/or photos and videos.

All illustrations include a profile analysis that highlights the parts of one or more sub-competency profiles the student is demonstrating in the illustration.