All Party Social Mobility group and Centre Forum say Character counts
Manifesto promotes importance of Character and Resilience
Why do some talented children grow up to fulfil their ambitions while others never realise their full potential? How do we create a country in which a person’s life chances are determined by their talent, not the circumstances of their birth? These are some of the difficult questions that the APPG ‘ Character and Resilience Manifesto’ aims to tackle.
The Chair of the APPG ,Baroness Claire Tyler, wrote:
‘There is a growing body of research linking social mobility to social and emotional skills, which range from empathy and the ability to make and maintain relationships to application, mental toughness, delayed gratification and self-control. These research findings all point to the same conclusion: character counts.’ She continued
‘The evidence also makes clear that people are not just born with or without Character and Resilience traits. Rather, a person learns to develop and use these abilities throughout their life. They can be taught and learnt at all stages of life. This means that policymakers and practitioners have a key role to play in encouraging the development of Character and Resilience throughout the population.’
The report says that there is growing evidence linking life chances to things beyond just test scores – that is ‘non-cognitive’ skills. In simple terms, these are attributes such as a belief in one’s ability to succeed, the perseverance to stick with a task and the ability to bounce back from life’s inevitable setbacks. In short, ‘Character and Resilience’.
At a summit last year, The APPG on Social Mobility heard evidence on how these so called ‘soft’ skills lead to hard results: where you are on the character scale will have a big impact on what you achieve. This Manifesto is an attempt to take the next step. It contains what we – as a cross party group – believe to be the best policies to enhance Character and Resilience across the life course.
In doing so, it is both a ‘call to arms’ to policy makers and an attempt to begin a wider national conversation on how developing Character and Resilience can help break down the stubborn blight of social immobility and enable people from every walk of life to realise their full potential.
Character and Resilience manifesto
In the early years, the APPG calls on government to:
1. Introduce an Early Years Premium, extending the Pupil Premium into early years education;
2. Support development of a best practice tool-kit for the early years focussing on interventions that aid development of the crucial non-cognitive base in early child development;
3. Roll out evidence based parenting initiatives nationwide;
4. Encourage the development and implementation of an innovative campaign to convey simple but crucial child development messages to parents; AND
5. Develop a robust school readiness measure at reception that includes Character and Resilience.
In school, the APPG calls on government to:
1. Ask Ofsted to determine how to factor Character and Resilience and ‘extra’-curricular activities more explicitly into the inspection framework;
2. Make participation in ‘extra’-curricular activities a formal aspect of teachers’ contracts of employment;
3. Create a respected, official ‘School Leaving Certificate’ that reflects a child’s achievement across a broad range of activities rather than just exam outcomes;
4. Incorporate Character and Resilience into initial teacher training and CPD programmes;
5. Support development of a best practice tool-kit for interventions that aid Character and Resilience for specific use in conjunction with the Pupil Premium; AND
6. Encourage all private schools to share their professional expertise and facilities that promote Character and Resilience with schools in the state sector, in keeping with private schools’ charitable status.
In the transition to adulthood and employment, the APPG calls on government to:
1. Encourage the growth of the National Citizenship Service and ensure that this has the explicit purpose of building
Character and Resilience at its heart;
2. Establish an officially recognised and valued National Volunteering Award Scheme to give adult volunteers formal recognition of their contribution to the lives of young people;
3. Seize the opportunity of the raising education participation age to use Character and Resilience programmes to re-engage the most disengaged 16 and 17 year olds back into learning; AND
4. Make Character and Resilience a key focus of the National Careers Service.
In this area the APPG also calls on employers to:
5. Actively encourage staff to participate in CSR activities that develop Character and Resilience in young people;
6. Implement internal training programmes that help develop the Character and Resilience capabilities of staff; AND
7. Develop alternative routes into advanced professional positions that reflect the importance of Character and Resilience skills rather than raw academic achievements.
The chairman of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, Alan Milburn, described the report as “valuable”.
“Schools must do more to promote character skills as well as academic attainment,” he said.”It is not a question of either-or; the core business of a school must be to do both.”
The report has been welcomed widely, with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg saying it would help to “drive innovative thinking”.
In a speech last week, Education Secretary Michael Gove stressed the importance of extra-curricular activities.
“As top heads and teachers already know, sports clubs, orchestras and choirs, school plays, cadets, debating competitions all help to build character and instil grit, to give children’s talents an opportunity to grow and to allow them to discover new talents they never knew they had,” he said.
Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt said the report “tackles one of the most pressing questions currently facing our education system: how do we educate resilient young people that have a sense of moral purpose and character, as well as being passionate, reflective learners?”
Edward Timpson, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education said, in the Commons on 10 February,” Schools play an important role in providing character-building activities for their pupils. Sports clubs, orchestras and choirs, school plays, cadet forces and debating competitions all help to build character and give children opportunities to flourish. Schools are best placed to determine the needs of their pupils and how best to meet them”. He added that “We are also removing unnecessary health and safety rules that prevent children from going on expeditions and seeking adventures”
Character and Resilience Manifesto Chris Paterson, Claire Tyler and Jen Lexmond
The all-party parliamentary group on Social Mobility and Centre Forum -Feb 2014
James O Shaughnessy, formerly deputy director of the think tank Policy Exchange and adviser to David Cameron, has established Floreat Education which aims to open a number of Primary schools which focus, interalia, on developing ‘good character, including virtues such as honesty, resilience and service to others’. Floreat Education has just been chosen to open a new primary school on the site of the Atheldene Day Centre in Earlsfield.