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Winners of the Character Awards announced

2nd March 2015

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan announces the 27 schools and organisations winning £15,000 for their work in character education.

Investing in character education “is vital for preparing young people for life in modern Britain”, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has said today (25 February 2015), as she announces the 27 schools and organisations receiving £15,000 each in recognition of their work to promote traits such as grit and resilience in pupils.

Announcing the winners of the Character Awards, the Secretary of State for Education said that funding initiatives ensures pupils develop resilience and grit, helping them to stay on the right track once they leave school – improving their employment chances and increasing their participation in society.

The awards are designed to highlight the most effective ways of ensuring pupils leave school ready for life in modern Britain. Today’s winners were chosen by a panel of experts. They all had to display evidence that their work has improved pupils’ future outcomes from exam results to behaviour, attendance or job prospects.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said:
“Teaching character not only benefits children at school – it also plays a vital role in ensuring young people leave school prepared for life in modern Britain.

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.

Teachers across the country are doing excellent work to promote character. Today’s award winners are leading the way, and I hope other schools can learn from their successful approaches.

Character education is a central part of our plan for education, and we are investing £10 million to ensure pupils develop the resilience and grit they need to succeed in later life. Schools now have the tools and support they need to ensure they develop well-rounded pupils ready to go on to an apprenticeship, university or the world of work.”

Vicky Beer CBE, chair of the judging panel and of the Teaching Schools Council, said:
“Our experience across primary and secondary phase education and special school settings has shown us that character building is a core part of every child’s success, alongside academic excellence. The awards are a great opportunity to showcase the best schools and organisations that are making a real difference in this field.”

Rob Wall, judge and Head of Education and Employment Policy at the CBI, said:
“The awards represent a step towards achieving what the CBI and businesses have long been calling for: an education system that develops young people who are rigorous, rounded and grounded – this means a focus not only on knowledge and skills, but also on the attitudes, characteristics and behaviours that will set them up for success outside the school gates.”

Maggie Alphonsi MBE, judge and England rugby player, said:
“My experience in rugby tells me that being resilient and ambitious is really important to success. The Character Awards are an exciting opportunity to recognise character as vital in helping young people step up to the challenges that they face, whether it be on the rugby pitch, at school or in work.”

The government’s plan for education includes a £5 million pledge to ensure that more pupils leave school prepared for the challenges of life in modern Britain, including £4 million to reward and spread the character work of school and charities, and £1 million to research the most effective approaches. An additional £5 million has also been awarded to life-changing projects run by former armed services personnel.

One of today’s winners will go on to win a further £20,000 at an awards ceremony next month. The successful schools include:

  • Queensbridge School, a secondary school in Birmingham. Life at Queensbridge is underpinned by responsibility and rigour. Pupils use an ‘iMap’ – a personal portfolio – to record the evidence of their personal development through residentials and extra-curricular activities. The school has pledged to match fund their prize to expand their model with other schools
  • King’s Leadership Academy in Warrington, Cheshire. ‘Seven pillars’ of character – aspiration, achievement, self-awareness, professionalism, integrity, respect and endeavour – permeate the curriculum, direct extra-curricular activities and inform the day-to-day running of the school. All children are issued with a ‘King’s passport’ to develop their character, and pupils attend weekly public speaking, philosophy and ethics lessons
  • School 21, a new school in Newham, one of the most deprived boroughs of London. The school’s overwhelmingly disadvantaged children abide by the 6 attributes of professionalism, grit, spark, eloquence, expertise and craftsmanship, which are developed through a focus on speaking skills and coaching
  • Oakthorpe Primary School in Derbyshire. The school’s ethos focuses on the traits of reciprocity, reflection, resourcefulness and resilience. The school council has developed a positive behaviour rewards system to help children reach their ‘ideal selves’, and their whole school approach has led to an increase in pupils’ self-reported ability to bounce back from challenges

The winners were judged by a panel of experts from a broad range of sectors, representing the diverse approaches of character education. The panel consists of:

  • Chair: Vicky Beer CBE, Chair of the Teaching Schools Council and Executive Principal for the West Trafford Learning Partnership (Ashton-on-Mersey and Broadoak schools)
  • Maggie Alphonsi MBE, England rugby player, Athlete Mentor Manager and Rugby World Cup 2015 Ambassador
  • Professor James Arthur, Head of the School of Education, University of Birmingham, and Director of the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues
  • Rob Wall, Head of Education and Employment Policy, CBI
  • Dr Kevan Collins, CEO of the Education Endowment Foundation, a research-based charity raising the educational attainment of disadvantaged pupils
  • Charlotte Hill, CEO of Step up to Serve, a charity that aims to increase the number of young people participating in meaningful social action
  • Jill Litchfield, Headteacher at Bournehall Primary School, Bushey, Hertfordshire, and part of the national teaching schools network
  • Diane Reynard, Principal of the East Specialist Inclusive Learning Centre in Leeds, and a member of the Teaching Schools Council

Read more on the GOV website