THE Church of England’s education office has stepped up its work on character education by producing a discussion paper on the issue, produced in partnership with the University of Birmingham’s Jubilee Centre. It was launched last Friday at a conference in Church House, Westminster, attended by 140 diocesan education advisers and senior staff of C of E schools.
The paper says that character education goes beyond the development of personal grit. It should involve the development of intellectual, moral, and physical attributes as being equally essential. In a keynote speech, the Bishop of Ely, the Rt Revd Stephen Conway, who chairs the board of the National Society, said: “We need an expanded and expansive vision which does not limit hard-won freedoms, but which invites us to be committed fellow citizens of developed character and loving purpose.”
The paper includes case studies of character-education development at a range of primary and secondary schools. It encourages all church schools to resist a “tick-box” approach to character education, and instead to embed its principles in every aspect of school life.
Earlier this year, the Department for Education (DfE) announced a £3.5-million fund to encourage character education, including an award of £125,000 to the C of E for a project involving two Anglican universities and 20 church and community schools in four dioceses.
In May, the DfE allocated £500,000 to a character-education project that involved more than 14 rugby clubs, including a 33-week course for so-called “NEETS” — young people not in education or employment.
In a comment at the time on character education, the Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, said: “This is part of our core mission, to deliver real social justice by giving all children, regardless of background, the chance to fulfil their potential.”