Secretary for Education Nicky Morgan referred to the Prime Minister’s recent speech on life changes that the aim in politics should be “...to give every child the chance to dream big and the tools - the character, the knowledge and the confidence that will let their potential shine brightly.”
Nicky Morgan has said that the development of character and mental wellbeing are personal priorities and has been the first Secretary for Education to give a minister (Sam Gyimah) the specific responsibility for mental health.
She said that “good character is welcomed by schools, by businesses and by parents alike. It impacts both on educational outcomes and life chances, and I have seen first-hand the impact it can have”.
She suggested that character has previously been seen as something as "soft and a nice thing to do", instead of a vital part of education. Now however, the debate is shifting, and “there is greater awareness than ever before of just how important this is”.
Character building can prepare children for life in modern Britain, regardless of their background. A 'one-nation government' cannot accept that only some people deserve the opportunities that will help them in life.
“Character is about being self-aware - playing an active role within communities. It’s about selflessness and self-discipline as well as playing a full role in society”.
She proposed that there is no easy definition of character or easy tick boxes to cover, and it wouldn’t be right to set down rigid guidelines.
Businesses big and small are increasingly encouraging the importance of 'character building'. Character is often mistakenly combined with educational achievement, which is a common misconception as they are essentially "two sides of the same coin".
The Education Secretary makes a point of asking the schools she visits what they are doing to promote character, mental health and wellbeing. The Department for Education officials talk to schools which have incorporated character, to understand the key to their success. She concluded that the best schools tend to embed character in everything they do.
“I want every single pupil to benefit from that kind of character education, and for this reason the government are building the evidence base so the best approaches can be developed and schools can access this information."
This will be provided through an online digital platform where teachers can share best practice about character, get new ideas and find online professional development materials. Additionally, the Character Awards will be seen as the gold standard for what works.
Finally, she closed her speech by encouraging that “...we want this relationship between business and education to continue to go from strength to strength. That is why we will be launching, as the Prime Minister set out, a new business mentoring programme, led by the Careers and Enterprise Company”.
Teachers and leaders employed in state-funded schools as well as those employed in state-funded organisations that offer 16-19 places in England will be able to access fully funded DfE NPQ scholarships for the Spring 2022 NPQ Intake.
The national standards for headteachers emphasise this important responsibility, requiring heads to “ensure staff have access to high-quality, sustained professional development opportunities, aligned to balance the priorities of whole-school improvement, team and individual needs.