Nicky Morgan has revealed details of her plan to promote character in schools, a proposal that she outlined as a “priority” at the Conservative party conference earlier this year.
On Monday, the education secretary announced the Character Innovation Fund, a £4.8 million commitment to fund eight projects – some run by former armed services personnel – and nearly £500,000 in awards money for schools that effectively promote character.
The organisations include Commando Joe’s and Challenger Troop (see graph below), as well as the Prince’s Trust and Outreach.
Schools Week reported in September that Ms Morgan told an NASUWT fringe event at the Conservative conference that she wanted to build “character, resilience and grit” in pupils.
She said: “I have added a fifth priority to the department . . . Academic standards are of course critical, but we also, in terms of our shared ambition for preparing our young people for life in Britain, want to have young people who develop as well-rounded individuals.”
Ms Morgan said she was talking “in terms of preparing children for employment” and highlighted the importance of activities such as sport, creativity, and debating.
The extra funding will pay for military ethos projects aimed at developing children’s self-confidence, respect and leadership. The projects will include outdoor and physical activities and team-building.
A review of evidence from the Department for Education, published alongside Ms Morgan’s announcement, gave examples of how these projects positively impacted young people.
It said that last year more than 52,000 pupils participated in these schemes across 460 schools and other education institutions.
However, one provider surveyed showed that although 93 per cent of teachers said there had been some improvement in pupil attainment, most of those interviewed tended not to see a connection between military ethos projects and improvement.
Schools that build character will also be recognised through “character awards”. Schools can enter from January and will be judged by a panel of education experts.
Awards will include £15,000 for up to 27 schools in all nine regions of the country. These will be announced in February. One winner will also receive £20,000 at an awards ceremony in March.
Following the announcement, Ms Morgan said: “Delivering the best schools and skills is a key part of our long-term economic plan that is turning Britain around.
“For pupils who may have faced challenges or difficulties in their personal life, these initiatives run by former armed services personnel can offer a sense of greater aspiration and can help to build the skills and confidence they need to go on to good jobs and successful futures.
“Coupled with the new character awards, schools will now have the tools and support they need to ensure they develop well-rounded pupils ready to go on to an apprenticeship, university or the world of work.”