Morgan sets out plans for character education

Nicky Morgan has set out her plans for character education, at the official opening of the character symposium at Floreat School.

The Education Secretary hosted the Department for Education’s (DfE) first character symposium, alongside Floreat Education and Lord O’Shaughnessy.

Morgan quoted Prime Minister David Cameron’s life chances speech, agreeing the aim of politics should be ‘to give every child the chance to dream big dreams, and the tools - the character, the knowledge and the confidence that will let their potential shine brightly.’

She said: “As many of you will know, the development of character and mental wellbeing are personal priorities of mine.

“Good character is welcomed by schools, by businesses and by parents alike. It impacts both on educational outcomes and life chances, and I have seen first hand the impact it can have.

“Just last week I attended an event being held by the Transformation Trust which gives disadvantaged young people the chance to participate in character-building activities which they otherwise wouldn’t have access to.

“I heard from two young women, Camila and Rihanna, both only 18 years old, who were articulate, ambitious and accomplished. They were the embodiment of the impact character education can have on young people. For too long, character has been seen as ‘soft’ and ‘a nice thing to do’.”

Morgan continued to say that the debate is now shifting and awareness of the importance of character increasing.

She said: “I firmly believe character education prepares our young people for life in modern Britain, regardless of their background or where they grew up. For me character traits are those qualities that enhance us as people: persistence, the ability to work with others, to show humility in the joy of success and resilience in the face of failure.

“Character is about being self-aware, playing an active role within communities. It’s about selflessness and self-discipline as well as playing a full role in society.”

Morgan also advised that there was no clear definition of character, claiming it was no use setting out ‘rigid guidelines’ as the practice simply ‘isn’t a one-size-fits-all concept’, but a ‘combination of the traits that set people apart’.

Morgan added: “One of the other myths I’m keen to dispel is that character education, and academic attainment are mutually exclusive. Far from it. For me, they are two sides of the same coin."

Morgan pledged to ‘provide an online digital platform where teachers can share best practice about character education, evaluate new ideas and find online professional development materials - as well as sharing their own data to build a proper evidence base.’

The Education Secretary highlighted the importance of businesses taking an interest in character claiming, the ‘character traits we instil in young people should reflect the type of workforce our modern economy wants and needs’.

She explained: “That’s why we now have businesses sponsoring schools, becoming governors and offering work experience. We want this relationship between business and education to continue to go from strength to strength.

“I want excellent character education to be the norm across schools - so that every single child in every single school knows that they are getting the education they deserve and so that when they leave school, they are truly prepared for the next steps they take.”

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