Nine outstanding practitioners in character education, one from each of the English regions including one national winner, were celebrated today (1 July 2016) at a presentation that took place as part of the inaugural Association of Character Education (ACE) conference, held at the University of Birmingham School.
Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson announced the 2016 DfE Character Award winners at the event, held by ACE to support schools, teachers and other educationalists to develop traits like confidence, perseverance and resilience in young people; traits that support academic attainment, are valued by employers and enable young people to make a positive contribution to British society.
First introduced in 2015 by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, the awards celebrate excellence and diversity in this field, recognising that character is already being encouraged, nurtured and developed alongside academic rigour through a variety of programmes inside and outside schools across the country. The awards demonstrate that character education can be found within a school’s ethos, in the classroom and on the playground, as much as it can be found on the sports field and outside of school in the local community.
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said:
I congratulate those organisations winning an award today for their efforts to support young people to develop the positive character traits that can make a difference to thousands of lives. We know that qualities such as self-control, confidence, perseverance and the ability to bounce back from adversity underpin future success and well-being. We want to ensure that all young people have opportunities to develop these traits, and as the awards show us today, this is something that the best already do.
Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson said:
I’m delighted to announce Thoresby Primary School in Hull as the national winner of the Character Awards, alongside the 8 others receiving regional awards today. They’ve been rightly recognised for showing tremendous commitment to instilling positive character in young people, and their work demonstrates the breadth of ways that character can be developed, from sport and music activities, to youth social action and the development of an ethos around specific traits. I congratulate them all.
Charlotte Hill, Chair of the Character Awards judging panel and Chief Executive of Step Up To Serve, said:
The benefits of getting involved in character-building activities in and out of school extend well beyond the classroom. Taking part sets young people up to lead happy and successful lives at the same time and make a positive contribution to society.
Danielle Brown, MBE, double Paralympic gold medallist and 3-time World Champion in archery, also on the Character Awards national judging panel commented:
Character has a big impact on success, from the classroom, the sports field or the workplace. In my career I’ve learned the value of determination, confidence and the ability to bounce back from setbacks. That is why I’m delighted that I was able to join the national panel to identify those schools and organisations that are leading the way to develop character traits in their pupils.
DfE Character Award winners 2016
National winner and regional winner for Yorkshire and the Humber: Thoresby Primary School, Hull
Thoresby is an inner-city school at the heart of a diverse local community with 496 pupils on roll and 29 languages spoken. It is as a founding member of HCAT (Hull Collaborative Academy Trust) and it embodies the trust’s mission statement: “Children first.” The school offers an extensive programme of creative activities, trips and wider community projects, all linked to its core value, building character. Enterprise learning is well established through city-wide business links. A week-long “Kaleidoscope” arts festival is hosted by the school and pupils, which culminates in performances from each individual student to parents, local community stakeholders and businesses. The school’s vision is “the highest aspirations for all” and it achieves this through projects that develop key attributes of resilience, drive and determination in children, enabling them to take pride in their own achievements and those of their school.
Regional winner for the East of England: North Herts Education Support Centre (PRU), Hitchin, Hertfordshire
North Herts Education Support Centre is a pupil referral unit in Hitchin serving students experiencing social, emotional, and mental health challenges. Students require additional support in order to develop into confident and independent young men and women and the centre provides tailored vocational learning and qualifications for the students to build up a toolbox of invaluable practical life skills; skills that will support them in life beyond education. Through visits to the local college and food bank, the centre encourages students to develop the courage and confidence to take part in their local communities.
Regional winner for Greater London: Team London, Southwark, London
Team London was set up by the Mayor of London to capitalise upon the success of the London 2012 Games. The programme has engaged 1 million Londoners and resulted in London being named European Volunteering Capital 2016. Their key focus is to build the next generation of volunteers and provide young people with the skills required to enter the world of work. Their Young Ambassadors program provides workshops in communication, leadership, and organisational skills and encourages young people to take on social action projects. In addition, the organisation hosts youth summits that bring together students from local schools to network and collaborate.
Regional winner for the North East: Archibald Primary School, Middlesbrough
Archibald Primary School’s motto is “Believe and achieve” and the staff team place great emphasis on instilling a belief in pupils that, whatever challenges they face, they can achieve their full potential. Character education is at the heart of the school’s ethos and embedded across the curriculum. One of the acronyms its uses is MAGIC, standing for Motivation, Attitude, Gumption, I learn and Communication, students know that if they strive to master these attributes, they will make the best possible progress. Drama is amongst the wide range of opportunities offered at the school, which is a local hub for the RSC, and this partnership has enabled children to visit and perform at both Stratford and Downing Street.
Regional winner for the North West: Birtenshaw School, Bolton, Greater Manchester
Birtenshaw School is a special school for pupils aged from 3 to 19. Students face a range of challenges including autistic spectrum conditions, communication difficulties, multi-sensory impairments and physical disability. Students at Birtenshaw have often failed to thrive at their previous schools and on arrival, they are supported in a way that is tailored to their own particular needs. Birtenshaw’s stated aim is to “brighten lives and build futures.” For every child the starting point is to build trust and confidence. The school can then start to draw out creative curiosity and support pupils so that they learn to have confidence in themselves and in their ability to achieve at school and, in doing so, prepare for life after school.
Regional winner for the South East: Newlands Primary School, Yateley, Hampshire
In 2007, Newlands Primary started its mission to put character education at the heart of the school. Over the past 10 years, they have undertaken a range of activity all designed to benefit pupils by showing them that they can have a positive impact across their community and beyond. The school works with 2 main partners, The British Council, on developing global partnerships and with UNICEF on their Rights Respecting Schools programme. Through global partnerships, Newlands has collaborated with schools in Kenya, South Africa, Sweden and China and pupils have learned to become true global citizens. The programme has helped the school to take a whole school and community approach to values and character education. In connecting pupils to the rest of the world through the UNICEF programme, the school has helped pupils to understand that they can truly make a difference in and out of school.
Regional winner for the South West: Great Torrington School, Devon
Character development is key to the ethos of Great Torrington School, whose mission is: “To inspire confident learners who will have the skills, qualities and qualifications to thrive in our changing world.” The school is a mixed secondary which provides an extensive range of enrichment opportunities to help students expand upon their life experiences and give them the grit and determination to keep trying. Students are encouraged to take part in competitions at local, regional and national levels. These have included; the international Lego league, South West Regional show jumping, Rotary Young Chef, Rotary Youth Speaks, Torrington Carnival, Teen Tech Awards, Maths Challenge and the Great Torrington School Spelling Bee. All with the objective of giving students experiences that enhance their GCSE achievements to offer them the widest opportunity for future careers and life-long learning.
Regional winner for the East Midlands: Nottingham Girls Academy, Nottingham
The aim of Nottingham Girls Academy is to ensure that students become confident, compassionate and articulate young women with the skills to support them through the rest of their lives. Key character traits are promoted by what is called “a 6 R platform”. The 6 Rs are; resilience, reflection, reasoning, respect, responsibility and resourcefulness. Character education is centred around a whole school programme, called My Personal Best or MyPB. Although MyPB is rooted in PE, it also covers this is me, thinking me, and social me. In each area many life skills are taught and developed, including resilience, communication (speaking and listening), integrity and self-management. The outcomes of MyPB are raising aspirations while developing students’ personal skills and behaviours.
Regional winner for the West Midlands: The Cooperative Academy, Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire
The Co-op Academy focuses on character education based on self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. To a population of students who are mostly identified as disadvantaged, the academy promotes participation in student council, enrichment activities and competitive sports. This is a co-operative academy with a focus on building character based on the co-operative values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. The school’s vision for their students is to “be the best”. Character education is part of a deeply engrained moral purpose that runs through the academy and is aimed at making a significant impact on the life chances of students. A wide programme of character building activities take place, including random acts of kindness; art therapy; current affairs; and cross country running. The result is that there is a real understanding of civic virtues in all academy students.
Further details, including a full listing of the national panel of judges, can be found on the Characters Awards 2016 website.
Notes to editors
Winning entries demonstrated excellence in delivering a programme that developed 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
We are grateful to the following organisations and individuals for their donation of prizes to the winning schools: Aldeburgh Music, The Arts Council Bridge Organisations, The British Athletes Commission, Barclays, The British Board of Film Classification, Carrie Grant, Charlene White and ITV News, The Civic Barnsley, Colonel Melissa Bowerman, Commando Joe’s, The English-Speaking Union, Fitzwilliam Museum, Future Foundations, Gez Walsh, The Georgian Theatre Royal, The Invictus Games Foundation, The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, Lord Holmes of Richmond, National Coal Mining Museum for England, National Citizen Service, Premiership Rugby, The Princes Trust, The Royal Opera House, Saint John’s Ambulance and Youth Sports Trust.