primary & secondary education

Delivering Effective Character Education in Schools

primary & secondary education

08:45 - 16:10

Tuesday 11 February 2020

Central London

This Character Education Forum provides a unique opportunity for participants to consider what effective character education looks like and how to deliver it in a way that is beneficial to every pupil. Policy advisers and sector leaders will share updates on the latest thinking around developing a character education curriculum, including the six benchmarks for schools to meet, as well as teaching the related virtues through a wide range of subjects on the existing curriculum. In addition, case studies demonstrating excellence in their approach will share best practice around the government’s five foundations for building character.  


This Forum is specifically designed for Schools. Typical job titles will include:

  • Headteachers
  • Deputy and Assistant Headteachers
  • Principals
  • Vice Principals
  • Directors of Education
  • Teachers of PSHE
  • Humanities Leads
  • Heads of Pastoral
  • Heads of Wellbeing
  • Heads of Learning
  • Character Education Leads
  • Heads of School Improvement
  • Curriculum Managers
  • Teaching Assistants
  • Heads of Sixth Form
  • Careers Advisors
  • School Liaison Officers
  • Education Improvement Advisors
  • Outreach Managers

This Forum is also open to Local Authorities and the Voluntary and Private Sectors, as well as the wider Education Sector, to encourage debate and discussion.

Key Speakers Confirmed:
  • Ian Bauckham, Chair, Department for Education (DfE) Character Advisory Group
  • Gary Lewis, Chair, Association for Character Education (ACE)
  • Senior Representative, Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues
  • Adam Thomson, Head of CPRE, The Sweyne Park School
View the agenda and additional speakers

At a time when children and young people face increasing amounts of pressure in schools across the country, 1 in 10 are affected by mental health problems, according to the Mental Health Foundation. Life skills, such as resilience and confidence, have been identified as key development areas to support children with these pressures. Alongside this, the government has highlighted the importance of developing character through trying new activities and learning from failure as a crucial aspect of encouraging social mobility. This effort is vital as disadvantaged pupils are now 18.1 months behind non-disadvantaged pupils by the time they leave secondary school, according to July 2019 research from the Education Policy Institute (EPI).

In support of educators trying to tackle these issues through delivering character education, in November 2019 the government announced a set of six benchmarks for schools to meet, by taking them into consider when reviewing character teaching and the curriculum more broadly. The benchmarks were drawn up by a multi-disciplinary character expert panel, led by Ian Bauckham, to help measure the performance of schools in delivering this agenda. The panel ran a consultation around character and resilience between May and July 2019, the outcomes of which were used to inform the recommendations.

In line with this, Five Foundations for Building Character have been identified as sport, creativity, performing, volunteering and membership, and the world of work. Schools will need to develop activities in line with each of these pillars that can develop important virtues, as defined by leading bodies including the Association for Character Education (ACE) and the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues. These bodies are also offering resources to better facilitate the delivery of character education through traditional curriculum subjects. Since October 2019, schools have been able to enter into the Character Awards under a range of five categories, as the DfE are relaunching these awards in March 2020. The categories include excellence in building character through school culture and ethos, curriculum and teaching, collaboration, a character champion, or delivering against the Five Foundations for Building Character.

The onus is now on senior leadership teams and teachers to effectively review the teaching of character in order to meet the six new benchmarks set by the government, by engaging with the aims of this agenda and ensuring the necessary lessons and activities are provided for every child to flourish as an individual, and within wider society.


Registration, Refreshments and Networking


Chair’s Welcome Address

Kelly Kettlewell, Research Manager, NFER (invited)


Morning Keynote: Providing Pupils with the Tools to Flourish in Society

  • Outlining the role of ACE in supporting educationalists develop and promote character education, by providing resources and a platform to share expertise and best practice
  • Discussing how character education effectively feeds into traditional whole school aims around attainment, behavior standards and careers
  • Highlighting how schools can look to gain an accredited Kitemark to become a School of Character, and the pathway for successful schools to gain the Kitemark Plus, around key criteria of culture, curriculum, leadership and partnership
  • Sharing resources for teaching character through other subjects, including music, geography and languages

Gary Lewis, Chair, Association for Character Education (ACE) (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Strengthening Character Education through Interdisciplinary Research

  • Discussing the virtues that constitute good character, and how these are critical to individual excellence, how they contribute to societal flourishing, can be exercised within all human contexts and are educable
  • Considering how to extend character education programmes to target groups that may lay outside traditional efforts in developing virtues and ethics, including parents and teacher educators, as well as school staff
  • Advising schools on effective ways to teach, and demonstrate the effectiveness of, character education in line with the new Ofsted framework
  • Highlighting best practice from the DfE-funded Teaching Character Through Subjects project, developed in partnership with 29 teachers across 28 schools in England

Senior Representative, Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Special Keynote: Developing the Character Education Agenda

  • Collaborating with teachers, academics, and the voluntary sector to develop an effective set of benchmarks to measure schools’ character education performance
  • Understanding how the main areas of character building were identified, and how they may fit into the current curriculum
  • Sharing insights from engaging with parents and pupils around this topic, and how they consider education around life skills to be a key aspect of the school experience
  • Advising school leaders and teachers on auditing local provisions, such as activity providers and volunteer opportunities for pupils, with a view to identify gaps that a school can fill, with the support of local organisations

Ian Bauckham, Chair, Department for Education (DfE) Character Advisory Group (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Interactive Panel Session: Embedding Character Education Across a Whole School

Delegates will be invited to submit comments and questions throughout this session to encourage an ongoing conversation around effective methods of delivering character education. Themes to be discussed will include:

  • Considering what excellence in character education looks like: Preparing every pupil to contribute to a flourishing society by drawing out the nuanced range of qualities and aptitudes in each young citizen
  • Advising senior leaders on how to build character education into a school improvement plan
  • Outlining practical ways that classroom teachers can utilise character education to raise aspirations among all pupils
  • Exploring how to ensure early engagement with parents around the concept of character education, encouraging further development of the related virtues at home
  • Discussing the different approaches to character needed in primary and secondary settings

David Fisher, Headteacher, Kings Langley Secondary School (invited)

Adam Thomson, Head of CPRE, The Sweyne Park School (CONFIRMED)

Matt Bawden, Assistant Headteacher, Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School and Editor, Character Matters eJournal, Association for Character Education (invited)

Sir Anthony Seldon, Vice Chancellor, University of Buckingham (invited)

Sir Anthony Seldon launched the Jubilee Centre’s 2015 Character Education in Schools Report

Kings Langley School and The Sweyne Park School featured in the NFER’s Leading Character Education in Schools: Case Study Report 2017


Lunch and Networking


Case Study: Effectively Using Sport as a Method for Teaching Character Education

  • Considering how character can be taught through physical education (PE) and sports, including competitive activities such as running and swimming as well as purposeful recreational activities including gym programmes and orienteering
  • Advising PE teachers on helping all pupils find a sport or physical activity that they enjoy, with a view to ensure all can reap the benefits both in terms of their own wellbeing as well as the wider skills learnt
  • Outlining how sport can help develop character through problem solving, resilience, perseverance and teamwork, and exploring how in turn this contributes to greater academic success
  • Discussing how independent schools can work with local state schools to share sporting resources, demonstrating the virtues of character education while supporting pupils and teachers in underfunded settings

Matt Richbell, Director of Sport, Trinity School (invited)


Case Study: Developing Character Through a Creative Industries Partnership

  • Summarising the successful approach of the Into Film Festival, funded by The National Lottery, which since 2013 has reached over 2 million pupils and teachers through specialist, exclusive previews, and SEND inclusive film screenings
  • Engaging with teachers to develop the programme of events that occur throughout the festival, supporting staff to build character among pupils through engaging in creative activities, with 94% of teachers surveyed reporting that activities were valuable
  • Sharing the range of free resources available for teachers to utilise the power of film in the classroom and assemblies, including power points and film guides that address themes including mental health and moral codes
  • Assisting teachers to deliver the curriculum through talks, workshops and providing careers advice for pupils, as well as the Festival, which 83% of surveyed teachers have found useful

Jane Fletcher, Director of Programme Delivery and Learning, Into Film (invited)


Case Study: Building Confidence and Character Through Performance

  • Understanding the Abingdon approach to drama, including that direct engagement in drama is essential and that every pupil should experience development of key skills through dance, drama and musical performance
  • Teaching pupils subject-specific vocabulary through peer- and self-appraisals within drama, and extending vocabulary and thinking skills in a more creative way as pupils adopt character roles and personas
  • Outlining the alternating approach taken to drama lessons at each key stage, and how pupils develop virtues and better understand the world around them through playmaking as well as learning scripts to deliver for an audience
  • Highlighting how drama lessons act as a safe space in which pupils can explore issues, ideas and concerns relevant to them, developing their personal maturity and emotional literacy on which social wellbeing is founded

Ruth Hill, Deputy Head Teacher, Abingdon Primary School (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Addressing a ‘Culture Capital’ Deficit with Volunteering and Leadership Opportunities

  • Outlining how the school aims to build character through three programmes: Young Leaders, lessons based on character virtues, and The Edge enrichment programme
  • Advising on how to amend the school timetable to ensure every child is able to partake in character education and enrichment, as well as engaging staff with CPD in this area such as allowing KS4 pupils to run activities
  • Understanding the varied structure of programmes, including having KS4 pupils plan and deliver transition sessions for year 6 pupils in feeder schools, and offering an Awards for All-funded activity framework that includes horse riding and coding club for KS3 pupils
  • Considering how to effectively assess character education so that it is not conducted in the same way as traditional academic subjects, encouraging pupils to appreciate the wider benefits of these lessons
  • Highlighting the impact of this approach, including 99% of ‘Young Leaders’ reporting additional progress in their curriculum lessons as a result of taking part, as well as building confidence

Nick Lowry, Principal, Co-op Academy (invited)

Featured in the NFER’s Leading Character Education in Schools: Case Study Report 2017


Case Study: Developing Character Through Real World Learning

  • Discussing how experience in the world of work can effectively compliment classroom teaching of character
  • Outlining the Real World Learning Project (RWLP) and how this take on work experience aims to provide more meaningful involvement through half a day per week across a term and a half
  • Ensuring students engage with problem solving and crucial organisational tasks with a pre-set desired outcome to encourage them to take responsibility and understand their value
  • Advising on how to establish long-term partnerships with local and national employers to develop sustainable opportunities that help deliver the character education curriculum

Peter Hyman, Co-Director, Big Education Trust (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Chair’s Summary and Close

*Programme subject to change

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