“Passports” to help young people’s character education take flight

"Passports" to help young people's character education take flight

Schoolchildren should be given “passports” documenting their extra-curricular volunteering work to help boost character education.

Headteachers and college principals from 50 schools across the UK gathered at an event run by the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues and Step Up To Serve this afternoon to come up with ideas as to how to get every child and young person between the ages of 10 to 20 to take part in social action by 2020.

The campaign – #iwill – aims to get a further 1.5 million young people involved in youth social action, such as volunteering, fundraising and campaigning, in the next five years.

Some of the barriers to social action were highlighted by Mita Desai, chair of the British Youth Council, who said a lack of suitable and regular after-school transport stopped many young people from being involved in social action.

There were also calls to involve more disadvantaged young people in volunteering projects.

Step Up To Serve co-founder and trustee Dame Julia Cleverdon said: “Organisations [such as the Scouts] have picked up £10million of Libor money to build 400 more centres in areas of disadvantage. The evidence is that young people from more challenging backgrounds are less likely to be involved in this than those who go through all the independent and grammar sector where it is part of the process.”

Caroline Verdon from Victoria Junior School in Barrow-in-Furness said: “Maybe the need for a national accreditation system that goes from primary through to secondary and helps us by being a tool to help at transition points.”

Dame Julia added: “Some conversation is running well about the issue of passports and how we move from primary through to secondary on this. We are interested in how to move this onto employers, so when apprentices move forward and young people go through uni they are taking with them some track record of evidence about what they have done and how they have done it.”

The event was given backing by education secretary Nicky Morgan, who said: “This is an important event if we are to build on the great work going on in our schools and colleges to champion the development of character education. There is already inspirational activity taking place in schools I visit across the country, and I encourage more schools, colleges and charities to get involved in social action projects.”

Dame Julia said all ideas from today’s session would be put to Ms Morgan.