DfE publishes Character Education report, outlining provisions for Character Education in schools

The DfE have published a report on developing character skills in schools. The report, which can be found on the DfE’s website, provides a summary of the key findings on research into the provision of character education in schools. The research carried out included a national survey and a number of case studies.

Over the last ten years, there has been growing interest in character education, particularly in the areas of resilience, self-regulation and emotional and social skills, and how these traits can play an important role in enabling children to achieve positively in their academic lives, their contribution to society and their communities, and in their health and wellbeing. The DfE have outlined their support for good Character Education and have identified that it can support improved academic attainment and enable children to make a positive contribution to British society.

Key findings from the report:

Current provisions for Character Education

  • 97% of schools sought to promote demonstrable character traits among their students
  • Schools viewed their role as being to:
    • Encourage pupils to understand, value and demonstrate the positive behaviour traits that would make them well-rounded, grounded citizens
    • Support the development of the skills required to function in and contribute to society
    • Support social and emotional development, in order for pupils to better understand themselves and work on their weakness
    • Instil pupils with a moral compass and skills in understanding and interacting with other people
  • Schools are primarily aimed to develop character to promote good citizenship (97%) and academic attainment (84%)
  • Across all school types, the character traits most highly prioritised were honesty, integrity and respect for others (a high priority for 94% of schools)
  • Less importance was placed on curiosity, problem-solving and motivation, although these traits were still a high priority for 68% of schools
  • Few schools reported a lack of priority for character education

Activities and approaches used:

  • Most schools use school-wide, cross-curricular approaches to develop character
  • 97% of schools already have a mission statement or set core of values intended to contribute to character education
  • Assemblies (92%) and lessons (89%) were used to develop desirable character traits in pupils by the vast majority of schools
  • 17% of schools already have a formalised plan or policy in place for Character Education
  • 25% of schools have a dedicated lead for Character Education – typically the head or deputy, or other SLT member

Challenges faced:

  • Competing demands for staff time and capacity – the school wide nature of Character Education makes staff capacity especially important for successful delivery as the key aims and messages need to embedded across the curriculum and understood and committed by all staff
  • A minority of schools mentioned lack of engagement from pupils and parents, lack of knowledge or information and difficulties measuring pupils’ character development as barriers

What do schools think are the keys to success in delivering Character Education?:

  • A clear vision and a whole-school approach embedded across the curriculum
  • Driven by strong leadership
  • Delivered and modelled by staff with the appropriate skills and time
  • Access to activities that could be tailored appropriately to meet the needs of pupils
  • Resources and skills to support practice in developing character
  • Support from the government and wider sector in developing a menu or bank of tools and activities that have been proven to work, and a database of organisations providing guidance, resources and tools and a network for schools to share and discuss practice

To read the full report, visit the DfE website.


character, dfe, ofsted, smsc

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