Polling carried out by Populus for The Jubilee Centre for Character and Values, based in the University of Birmingham, has found very strong support among parents for the idea that schools should be promoting character development alongside academic study.
Key findings in the poll include:
- · 87% of parents felt that schools should focus on character development and academic study, not simply academic study alone
- · 84% of parents that that teachers should encourage good morals and values in students
- · 95% of parents felt that it is possible to teach a child values and shape their character in a positive sense, through lessons and dedicated projects or exercises at school
- · 81% of parents wanted schools to have a core statement of the values that schools instilled in their pupils
Commenting on the overwhelmingly public support for schools delivering character education, director of The Jubilee Centre for Character and Values, Professor James Arthur, said:
“There is a strong belief among parents that schools should promote character alongside academic study. Parents want teachers to set a moral example and they want schools to teach character.
“Many schools don't know how to teach character. They might have a statement of values but too often they are bland paragraphs that have little impact on what goes on in the classroom
“The Jubilee Centre has produced a rigorous, evidence-based and philosophically-sound Framework for Character Education that is designed to help heads and teachers introduce effective character education in their schools. This will enable them to meet parents’ expectations ensure students are able to develop their character strengths as much as their intellectual abilities.
The overwhelming nature of the results has led to a considerable amount of media attention. We have collated some of the stories below.
BBC News article: Schools should build 'character' say parents.
The Sunday Times: Primary Pupils to gain true grit at knight school. (Subscription required)
BBC Three Counties Radio: Iain Lee Show (20 mins)
BBC WM: Pete Morgan at Breakfast (40 mins)
BBC Devon: Good Morning Devon (55 mins)
BBC Radio Bristol: John Darvall (49 mins)
BBC Sheffield: Rony Robinson (1hr 34mins)
BBC Lincolnshire: Rod Whiting (33 mins)
BBC Shropshire: Jim Hawkins (1hr 15mins)
BBC Hereford and Worcester: Andrew Easton (1hr 23mins)
Framework for Character Education
The Jubilee Centre believes that the findings of the poll should not come as a surprise, for as one of the Centre’s educational philosophers David Carr puts it, it is “much clearer why it is important to encourage children to be honest, tolerant and fair than it is why they should be taught mathematics or science, for although not all children will develop an interest in or a need for science, all human beings require an interest in honesty or fairness”.
The findings of this survey clearly support the thrust of the argument provided by the Jubilee Centre in its recently published Framework for Character Education in Schools. The Framework document argues that in addition to being caught, moral character should also be directly taught in schools, and that the teaching of character provides the rationale, language and tools to use in developing character in and out of school.