Damian Hinds will today set out his “five foundations” for character education, and pledge to improve access to extra-curricular activities for poorer pupils.
The education secretary is concerned that too few disadvantaged children have access to activities that build the “character and resilience” they need to succeed in education.
However, the only material pledge expected in Hinds’s speech will be promise to improve communication between schools and organisations providing such activities.
A renewed focus on character education comes after character awards and grants for schools developed by former education secretary Nicky Morgan were shelved by her successor Justine Greening in 2017.
Hinds, described by Morgan in an interview with Schools Week as “interested” in character education, has already launched an activity passport which encourages pupils to do things like climb trees and learn to sew buttons onto clothes.
But in an address to the Church of England’s Foundation for Educational Leadership conference, Hinds will go further, setting out his ambition for pupils to have access to activities from “five foundations for building character” – sport, creativity, performing, volunteering & membership and the world of work.
Hinds will say that, despite these activities being offered by “thousands” of providers, a lack of information of what is available must not be a barrier to young people taking up the opportunities.
To address the issue, he will pledge to “improve the sharing of information between organisations and schools, so pupils, parents and teachers can be signposted to character building activities near them”.
“I want to make sure every child gets to build up their character and resilience by testing themselves from a range of enjoyable and activities. These activities don’t have to be a result of a physical exertion. They can just as easily be something you do at school or at home or in an office or that isn’t a hobby.
“We need greater co-ordination to increase awareness of all the opportunities available. I want to make clear that I’m not piling on the extra chores to a school’s to-do list. What I’m asking for is a joined up effort from the entire community. We all have a vested interest in making sure that young people are resilient, resourceful and confident in their abilities. It’s not something that we can subcontract to schools.”