News story

Education, sport and business leaders to judge Character Awards

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

School leaders, an England women’s rugby player and business and charity figures will judge an awards scheme to promote character education.

The 2015 DfE Character Awards will see up to 27 schools and organisations from every region of the country awarded £15,000 each for their efforts to promote character traits, attitudes and behaviours, such as resilience and grit, among young people. One of these will go on to win a further £20,000 at a ceremony in March.

Coming together from a broad range of sectors, the judges have been chosen to represent the diverse approaches and outcomes of character education. The panel consists of:

  • Chair: Victoria 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

Commenting on the announcement of the DfE Character Awards, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said:

Delivering the best schools and skills is a key part of our long-term economic plan that is turning Britain around.

As well as high academic standards, this means providing opportunities for all young people to develop the character and resilience they need to succeed in modern Britain.

The new Character Awards will help give schools and organisations 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.

Rob Wall, Head of Education and Employment Policy at the CBI, said:

The DfE Character Awards are a great opportunity to recognise excellence and to reward those schools and organisations that develop rigorous, rounded and grounded young people. The awards represent a step towards achieving what the CBI and businesses have long been calling for: an education system that better prepares all of our young people for life outside the school gates.

Maggie Alphonsi MBE, 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.

Victoria Beer CBE, Chair of the National Teaching Schools Council, said:

The Teaching Schools Council is delighted to support the DfE Character Awards. Our expertise across primary and secondary phase education and special school settings has shown us that character building is core part of every child’s success, alongside academic excellence. The awards will be a fantastic opportunity to showcase the best schools and organisations that are making a real difference in this field.

Dr Kevan Collins, Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), said:

This is a fantastic opportunity to find promising approaches to character education from across the country. EEF believes that character and resilience can play an important part in determining pupils’ outcomes, but we know much less about the most effective ways to develop these attributes in children. By building the evidence in this area we hope to offer schools a rigorous and independent assessment of what really works.

Professor James Arthur, Head of the School of Education at the University of Birmingham, said:

The DfE Character Awards are a landmark chance to recognise character as vital in helping young people flourish. This is an excellent initiative and I am looking forward to seeing the fantastic programmes that schools and organisations are leading in this space.

Charlotte Hill, Chief Executive of Step Up to Serve, said:

I am delighted to be involved in this important DfE drive to recognise the value of character development in education. It chimes very much with getting more young people involved in social action, which can play a core part of building character in children and young people.

Applications for the awards opened on 7 January. Applicants must demonstrate clear evidence, which will be verified, to show their programme develops character traits, attributes and behaviours that underpin success in school and work, including:

  • perseverance, resilience and grit
  • confidence and optimism
  • motivation, drive and ambition
  • neighbourliness and community spirit
  • tolerance and respect
  • honesty, integrity and dignity
  • conscientiousness, curiosity and focus

Awards ceremony

The regional winners will receive their awards at a ceremony in London on 16 March, where the further national winner will be announced.

Representatives from winning schools and organisations will have the unique opportunity to be recognised for their commitment to developing character and to come together to share best practice.

This event will also be an opportunity to network with other leaders in the field of character education.

Further information

The application window for the Character Awards is open until 5pm on 30 January. Applicants may nominate themselves for an award by completing the online application.

Proposals for the further Character Education Grant programme should be submitted by 12pm on the 6 February. See more details about the Character Education Grant programme.

Panel profiles

Chair: Victoria Beer CBE

Chair of the Teaching Schools Council. Vicky is a National Leader of Education and the Executive Principal for the West Trafford Learning Partnership, comprising Ashton on Mersey and Broadoak schools; part of the multi-academy Dean Trust.

Maggie Alphonsi MBE

England Rugby player, Athlete Mentor Manager and Rugby World Cup 2015 Ambassador. Maggie plays as a flanker for Saracens WRFC and is an ambassador for the Youth Sports Trust.

Professor James Arthur

Head of the School of Education, University of Birmingham and Director of the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, an interdisciplinary research centre focussing on character, virtues and values in the interest of human flourishing. James is Editor of the British Journal of Educational Studies and Director of CitizED.

Rob Wall

Head of Education and Employment Policy, CBI. Rob leads the CBI’s work on employment regulation, employee relations, education and skills.

Dr Kevan Collins

CEO of The Education Endowment Foundation, an independent charity dedicated to raising the educational attainment of disadvantaged pupils. Kevan led the Primary Literacy Strategy as National Director, and has served as Director of Children’s Services at Tower Hamlets.

Charlotte Hill

CEO of Step up to Serve, a charity that aims to double the number of young people participating in meaningful social action to over 50% by 2020. Charlotte is an RSA Fellow, Vice Chair of Whole Education and also a member of a youth club in her local area.

Jill Litchfield

Headteacher at Bournehall Primary School, Bushey, Hertfordshire. The school was judged ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted in November 2014. She led her previous school in Hemel Hempstead out of special measures (2002) and on to being recognised as the highest achieving school in the Dacorum area (2007).

Diane Reynard

Principal of the East Specialist Inclusive Learning Centre in Leeds which is a generic 2 to 19 special school. The school has achieved ‘outstanding’ in its last 2 inspections. Diane is a member of the Teaching Schools Council.