Ashton, Manchester

What is Character Education?

Character Education is an integral part to the work we do a Safe Start. We offer a seamless blend between a rigorous and stretching academic education and outstanding wider personal development. These and other aspects of the school’s work all contribute to forming well-educated and rounded young adults ready to take their place in the world.

Safe Start, as part of a broad and balanced curriculum, promotes the spiritual, moral, social, and cultural (SMSC) development of pupils and prepare them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life. Character education contributes to this duty to promote SMSC.

Safe Start actively promotes good behaviour and positive character traits, including for example courtesy, respect, truthfulness, courage and generosity. We have an important role in the fostering of good mental wellbeing among young people so that they can fulfil their potential at school and are well prepared for adult life. With clear expectations on behaviour and with well-planned provision for character and personal development, we help promote good mental wellbeing.

Safe Start offer a wide variety of curricular and extra-curricular activities to provide character education, including: assemblies, subject lessons, dedicated character education lessons, sports, community projects, work placements, vocational skill classes and outward-bound activities. These opportunities help young people to explore and express their character and build the skills they need for resilience, empathy and future employment capability.

The Department for Education have identified four important aspects, which inform the way Safe Start shape wider provision for young people:

  • the ability to remain motivated by long-term goals, to see a link between effort in the present and pay-off in the longer-term, overcoming and persevering through, and learning from, setbacks when encountered;
  • the learning and habituation of positive moral attributes, sometimes known as ‘virtues’, and including, for example, courage, honesty, generosity, integrity, humility and a sense of justice, alongside others;
    the acquisition of social confidence and the ability to make points or arguments clearly and constructively, listen attentively to the views of others, behave with courtesy and good manners and speak persuasively to an audience; 
  • an appreciation of the importance of long-term commitments which frame the successful and fulfilled life, for example to spouse, partner, role or vocation, the local community, to faith or world view. This helps individuals to put down deep roots and gives stability and longevity to lifetime endeavours.

Research suggests that there are enabling character traits which can improve educational attainment, engagement with school and attendance:

  • High self-efficacy, or self-belief, is associated with better performance, more persistence and greater interest in work;
  • Highly motivated children (linked to tenacity) driven internally and not by extrinsic rewards show greater levels of persistence and achievement;
  • Good self-control (or self-regulation, the ability to delay gratification) is associated with greater attainment levels;
  • Having good coping skills (part of being able to bounce back) is associated with greater well-being.

Schools which develop character well help drive equity and social mobility for their pupils.