News, Politics

Character education advisers revealed in bid to boost children’s ‘resilience’

Damian Hinds has launched a call for evidence as he names his character education panel to help schools develop “character and resilience” among pupils.

The education secretary said today that trying new activities and learning from failure will boost children’s character and resilience, which “are key to social mobility”.

The 18-strong character expert panel will be led by Ian Bauckham of the Tenax School Trust, and includes current and former teachers, charity heads, former government advisors, academics and union leaders.

Life lessons are learned by having a go

The panel will help draw up recommendations for Gatsby-style benchmarks for character education to measure performance of schools.

Teachers, parents and young people have been called upon to share their views on the best non-academic activities to offer children.

Hinds said: “It’s a good time of year to remind pupils that in 10 years’ time their exam results might be a distant memory, but the life skills they acquire will stay with them forever.

“Life lessons are learned by having a go. With all of us – but particularly young people – spending more and more time online, we should all put our phones down, look up and get involved in activities that stretch and challenge us.”

It follows the launch of the DfE’s “activity passport”, a printable document which allows pupils to tick when they have completed 140 activities, such as climbing trees, baking a cake and sewing.

The five areas the DfE has identified for building character are sport, creativity, performing, volunteering and world of work.

Previous research published by the Department for Education suggested that sports and fitness was the most popular kind of activity. Outdoor pursuits and creative activities were also popular, according to the survey of more than 2,500 pupils aged 11 to 16 and their parents or carers.

The Character Advisory Group includes: 

Ian Bauckham (Chair) – chief executive of the Tenax School Trust who serves on the Headteacher Board and is a recognised National Leader of Education

James Arthur – director of the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues and a leading UK academic on character education

Jonathan Baggaley – chief executive at the PSHE Association and a former head of education at the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre

Geoff Barton – general secretary of the Association for School and College Leaders (ASCL). A former headteacher and a longstanding member of ASCL Council

Tom Bennett – founder of ResearchED and the DfE’s independent behaviour advisor

Oli de Botton – headteacher at School 21 who also worked as a government education advisor from 2008 to 2012

Dame Julia Cleverdon – co-founder and advisory board member of Step up to Serve, vice president of Business in the Community, vice patron of Teach First and chair of the National Literacy Trust

Steve Cowgill – deputy headteacher at Archibald Primary School, a governor and a special educational needs co-ordinator

Allana Gay – deputy headteacher at Lea Valley Primary School. Co-founder of the BAMEed Network and a London regional leader for the established WomenEd network

Steve Gough – schools lead at Public Sector Finance, chairman of the Challenger Trust and a qualified accountant who leads the schools and academies team at KPMG

Geethika Jayatilaka – chief executive of Chance UK, former chair of governors at a London primary school and ex-cabinet member for children in the London Borough of Camden

Gary Lewis – chair of the Association of Character Education and executive headteacher of Kings Langley Secondary School

Tony Little – chair of the Laurus Trust and author of An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Education

Dame Martina Milburn – chair of the Social Mobility Commission and chief executive of the Prince’s Trust

Ndidi Okezie – digital and customer voice strategy at Pearson, former assistant head at Ark Burlington Danes and former executive director at Teach First

Cat Scutt – director of education and research at the Chartered College of Teaching, a former English teacher and a PhD student at the UCL Institute of Education

Paul Whiteman – general secretary of the National Association of Headteachers

Daniel Wright – headteacher at the London Oratory School and a board member of the Association of Character Education.

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  1. Tom Burkard

    No doubt it takes a lot of ‘resilience’ to sit on a committee and come up with new schemes for creating more bureaucracy–ones which will occupy similar committees tasked with finding schemes to reduce teachers’ workload.

  2. We at St Nicholas Hospice Care have created a session to encourage all age groups of children to discuss those challenging aspects of life. You quoted ‘life lessons are learned by having a go’. We are trying to encourage conversation around death and loss with children so that they may learn from those that have experienced loss, share their views, feelings and thoughts and know that when they experience loss they will remember the stories they’ve heard and learn from. It is hoped through this they will increase their resilience and feel empowered to help themselves and others now and in the future. It is important to not shield our younger generation from such words as death, dying and loss but give them the time and space to discuss/debate and consider what it may mean to themselves and others. I would be interested to know if there is anything like this out there for children, which I see as a proactive approach to potentially reducing mental health concerns.