Last night (Thursday 27th November), the Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan MP gave the School of Education Priestley Lecture at the University of Birmingham. Under the title ‘Our Vision for Education’, Ms Morgan praised the work of the Jubilee Centre and the promotion of character development in schools. A full transcript of the speech is available here.
‘Central to that is ensuring that young people not only grow academically, but also build character, resilience and grit. That’s why one of my first acts as education secretary was to announce that my department would have a new focus on character education.
We want to ensure that young people leave school with the perseverance to strive to win, to persevere against the odds, to overcome the challenges that life throws at them and bounce back with vigour and confidence, something that the expeditions of Sir Raymond Priestley demonstrate in abundance.
We want pupils to revel in the achievement of victory, but honour the principles of fair play, to win with grace and to learn the lessons of defeat with acceptance and humility. And we want pupils to become honest citizens who contribute to their communities, neighborhoods and countries.
Much of this work has been inspired by the work of the Jubilee Centre at Birmingham University and its innovative research on character education and its work with schools to build best practice in this area.
Organisations like the Jubilee Centre have been pioneers in recognising that character can be taught. Not through formal lessons in character, but by integrating character building activities throughout the curriculum. These skills, traits and virtues can be strengthened by activities as simple as asking young people to stand up and present in front of their class or to learn about the perseverance and personal sacrifice of some of our most celebrated scientists or to take part in competitive sports.
By focusing on these character building activities, schools can ensure that pupils emerge from school more fully rounded and better equipped to meet the challenges of employment and future life.
Like the Jubilee Centre we passionately believe that we owe it to today’s young people to help them marry the highest standards of academic rigour with the character foundation needed to help them flourish.’