The government’s Character Awards are aimed at encouraging schools to run initiatives to develop “resilience and grit” and ensure pupils are “ready for life in modern Britain”. One of the 27 schools will go on to win first prize in the awards and a further £20,000. This winner is to be announced later this month.
Among the finalists is Queensbridge School in Birmingham, where pupils use an “iMap” – a personal portfolio – to record the evidence of their personal development through residentials and extra-curricular activities.
Meanwhile, King’s Leadership Academy in Warrington has its “seven pillars” of character – aspiration, achievement, self-awareness, professionalism, integrity, respect and endeavour. These are used across the curriculum, extra-curricular activities and inform the day-to-day running of the school. Pupils receive a “passport” to develop these skills.
At Emmanuel College in Gateshead, pupils are challenged to take responsibility for others, developing the core values of “courage, determination, honourable purpose and compassion”. The school focuses on character-building through an awards scheme and personal development plans.
And at Tapton School in Sheffield students take responsibility to develop their own range of behaviours, skills and strategies, based around resilience, reflectiveness, reciprocity, resourcefulness and respect and set their own improvement goals.
The awards come as the government earlier this year committed £1 million to researching the most effective approaches to resilience education by schools and charities. It also opened a £3.5 million grant fund to support projects designed to develop character education.
Education secretary Nicky Morgan said: “Investing in the character of young people will not only help them succeed academically, but also improve their job prospects and help them bounce back from setbacks.”
The secondary finalists are: Gordano School, North Somerset; Queensbridge School, Birmingham; The Haywood Academy, Stoke; The Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School, London; School 21, London; Tapton School, Sheffield; Mirfield Free Grammar School, West Yorkshire; Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Derbyshire; Babington Community College, Leicestershire; Therfield School, Surrey; The Sweyne Park School, Essex; Kings Langley School, Hertfordshire; Emmanuel College, Gateshead; Percy Hedley School, Newcastle; King’s Leadership Academy, Cheshire.