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How character education improves school results

Ask most parents what they wish for their child and they will outline two things - success and happiness. Success can mean lots of things, but in an educational sense, it means a child doing well at school and reaching their full academic potential. However, there’s been a lot of talk recently about the relationship between academic knowledge and ‘softer’ skills. Most parents would probably agree that softer skills such as resilience, integrity, perseverance and empathy help to create a well-rounded individual. These skills help a child to be a leader in later life, have positive interaction with others and build healthy relationships. This will go some way to tick off the happiness goal that we’ve already mentioned!

However, academic studies and softer skills are rarely thought of as friends of one another. In fact, they are often seen as enemies - studying and schoolwork aren’t anything to do with building your own character as a person, right? Well, what if these two seemingly different things actually have a correlation. What if, softer skills have a big impact on the development of a competent academic student and academic work could affect the kind of person you become.

Character Education Framework

The recent Dfe Character Education Framework believes that this is the case - offering schools guidance on the importance and reasoning behind character education. This will become useful considering that (as of September 2019) character education has been introduced as a recognised element of education in Ofsted inspections. Character education’s arrival on the education scene is no coincidence. Research suggests schools that develop pupils’ character help to “drive equity and social mobility”, and studies show a positive impact of character education on pupils’ motivation and attainment.

Developing the right mindset

It’s becoming more clear that knowledge and talent are not enough. In order to reach true academic potential, students must develop the right mindset to understand both their capabilities and the responsibility they hold in their academic journey. Character education will help them to do this. A growth mindset will allow them to develop self-efficacy and encourage a readiness to keep trying at things that might not come easily to them. They will also begin to truly understand the link between effort and progress. Resilience will equip them with the strategies and tenacity needed to continue when things don’t go to plan.

More specifically, a child exposed to character education will be a child who is more likely to

  • put their hand up in class
  • relish the opportunity to take on challenges and push themselves with their learning
  • learn from a low exam result rather than crumble from it
  • have well-developed study skills and self-discipline
  • be intrinsically motivated to achieve their best
  • take on board feedback from teachers
  • understand that one low mark or result does not define them or their potential

Creating motivated pupils

Through character education, we can develop happier, healthier students who have effective learning skills and take responsibility for their own progress and success. Introducing a well-structured character education plan in schools creates highly motivated pupils, causing fewer absences and lower levels of emotional distress. There’s no denying that these three things directly impact academic attainment. There is no longer any reason to see character education and academic development as being separate - they directly affect one another and we need to start embracing that fact.

Department for Education (2019) Character Education Framework.

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