Parliamentary group argues for a focus on character education


Schools should help to develop youngsters’ character and resilience, says a cross-party Parliamentary group.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Social Mobility has called for “a national conversation” about the role these traits can play in narrowing the attainment gap between children from different backgrounds. 

It says that schools should make it part of their “core business” to build pupils’ self-belief, perseverance, empathy and ability to bounce back “from life’s inevitable setbacks”.

The recommendations are part of a 60-page report – the Character and Resilience Manifesto – produced by the APPG in collaboration with the CentreForum think-tank.

The report’s proposals include a call for the government to extend the Pupil Premium to early years education and for Ofsted to build character and resilience activities into its inspection framework.

The manifesto also says that extra-curricular activities should become “a formal aspect of teachers’ contracts of employment”, that character and resilience should be incorporated into teacher training and CPD programmes, and that private schools should be encouraged to share “their professional expertise and facilities that promote character and resilience” with state schools.

“When we talk about education in this country, our first thoughts often turn exclusively to exam results and academic achievement,” says the manifesto, which was written by Chris Paterson, Claire Tyler and Jen Lexmond.

“The APPG on Social Mobility believes that if our education system also focused more on so-called ‘soft skills’, young people would leave school and university much better equipped to face life and its challenges.

“Indeed, even talking about ‘soft skills’ is something of a misnomer because these aren’t fluffy or superficial skills we’re talking about – this is about having the fundamental drive, tenacity and perseverance needed to make the most of opportunities and to succeed, whatever obstacles life puts in your way.”

It comes after shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt also called for character, resiliency and creativity to be key skills taught in schools.

To download the Character and Resilience Manifesto go to


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