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Schools to teach ‘character’ skills to children

March 2015

A new Government initiative will see schools and settings introduce character education into their teaching. The aim is to make sure children develop the skills that the Government has identified as helping them to do better at school, alongside their academic skills.

The Government has identified character as:

  • perseverance, resilience and “grit”
  • confidence and optimism
  • motivation, drive and ambition
  • neighbourliness and community spirit
  • tolerance and respect
  • honesty, integrity and dignity
  • conscientiousness, curiosity and focus

These are felt to be things that help young people to become autonomous, preparing them to live independent and rewarding lives. All of these attributes rely on children and young people having the speech, language and communication skills needed to be able to develop them, as shown in the table below.

The Government will be providing money to encourage the teaching of character:

  • Since January 2015 schools and organisations that offer activities promoting character in their pupils have been applying to have these programmes expanded through a new £3.5 million fund. The money can be used to support and expand current projects or put towards developing innovative new projects that focus on developing character skills.
  • A further £1 million is available to expand research into the most effective ways that character can be taught. The funding will be available to any organisation that provides well-evidenced interventions in character education to enable them to expand and test their approaches. Applications for this funding are open until 1st April 2015.
  • Settings able to demonstrate the effectiveness of interventions or activities that build aspects of character and have been in place for at least one year were able to enter the "Character Awards". The 27 schools and organisations receiving £15,000 each in recognition of their work to promote traits such as grit and resilience in pupils were announced at the beginning of March. More information about the winners can be found here.

Read more about the Government's character initiative here.

I CAN's programmes are designed to help schools and settings meet Ofsted's focus on developing and using pupils' communication skills, essential for developing character skills.