Press release

Winners of the Character Awards announced

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

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

The full 27 winners announced today are:

South West

  • Bath Rugby Foundation, which works with children from disadvantaged backgrounds to raise their confidence and life chances by imparting the values found in rugby - camaraderie, loyalty, discipline and respect. ‘Stickability’, their flagship programme, has increased students’ confidence alongside improving their academic achievement and literacy
  • Shaldon Primary School in Devon, which is driven by a set of values including aspiration, responsibility, determination, friendship, passion and excellence. The school encourages problem-solving and enquiry in pupils through activities such as working with local craftsmen to make 2 full-size regatta dinghies
  • Gordano School in North Somerset, which has developed a measure of effort, focusing on pupils’ resilience, independence, self-management and challenge, which is used to inform dialogue with parents, staff and pupils

West Midlands

  • St James’s C of E Primary School in Stourbridge, West Midlands, which is founded on values including respect, honesty, kindness, responsibility, perseverance and friendship. Parents and pupils voted on the values and character traits they want to see developed by the time they leave school. Pupil ‘learning ambassadors’ and ‘eco warriors’ act as role models to promote character traits such as independence and resilience in the school and through the wider community
  • 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
  • The Haywood Academy in Stoke-on-Trent, which offers a rich array of character-building activities through personal, social and health education (PSHE) days, motivational speakers, army cadet units and theatre programmes. The school gives regular feedback to pupils on the development of their character traits and behaviour

London

  • The Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School in Islington, which has partnered with Hogan Lovells, a multinational law firm, to develop a programme of character-building challenges from years 7 to 9. The year 9 challenge culminates in pupils organising a charity event and fundraising for the London Air Ambulance
  • City Year UK, a youth charity, which brings 18- to 25-year-olds into 22 schools across London, Birmingham and Manchester to promote civic and personal character traits in children from disadvantaged backgrounds. The 50 acts of greatness club helps pupils with behavioural problems develop relationship skills and social-emotional awareness
  • 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

Yorkshire and the Humber

  • Tapton School, a secondary school in Sheffield, which has developed a system to track students’ progress in resilience, reflectiveness, reciprocity, resourcefulness and respect. Students take responsibility to develop their own range of behaviours, skills and strategies, and set improvement goals based on these levels as they progress through school
  • Bushfield Road Infant School in Scunthorpe, which is leading an innovative approach to introduce character traits linked to enterprise into the curriculum. Teamwork, effective communication, creativity and innovation, positivity, initiative and financial literacy are traits used across the school in order to prepare children for success in later years
  • The Mirfield Free Grammar and Sixth Form in Mirfield, West Yorkshire, which runs a variety of character-building programmes throughout the school. The school has used Dr Art Costa’s ‘habits of mind’ to embed positive habits across the curriculum and tutor programmes to foster development of traits such as perseverance, resilience, drive, confidence and ambition

East Midlands

  • Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School in Derbyshire, which has placed student well-being at its core. The character-based tutorial programme is supported by extra-curricular activities. All year 7 pupils undertake a project to explore character traits and behaviours, and the programme permeates the whole school
  • Babington Community College in Leicestershire. The college’s pledge, which is read daily at assemblies, emphasises the importance of democracy, individual liberty, the rule of law, tolerance and respect for others
  • 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

South East

  • Future Foundations, an independent organisation that runs programmes for young people from age 10 across Berkshire to create a generation of inspirational, confident and optimistic young people. Through social-action projects and residential courses, supported by tailored coaching, the programmes have improved character traits such as confidence, motivation and creativity. With the award, the organisation plans to open their flagship global social leaders programme to students from the Berkshire area who wouldn’t otherwise have the means to attend
  • Therfield School, a secondary school in Leatherhead, Surrey, which has developed a record of personal excellence (ROPE) programme to track, monitor and celebrate students’ progress in developing character and involvement in activities that engender character building
  • Lane End Primary School in Buckinghamshire, which bases school life on core values of honesty, consideration, respect, endeavour and courage. The school has adopted a reward system to build character traits such as honesty, kindness, independence and perseverance in their pupils

East of England

  • The Diana Award, a charity that works with over 3,000 schools annually across the east of England and the UK to develop confidence, tolerance and resilience in young people, who are empowered to drive change within their schools and communities. As a result of the social-action programmes, teachers have witnessed improvements in behaviour and attendance of the pupils
  • The Sweyne Park School, a secondary school in Rayleigh, Essex, which has a core motto of respect for others, for oneself and for the community. The school has developed an ‘employability for life’ charter that has been adopted by Essex Local Authority as a model for best practice
  • Kings Langley School, a secondary academy in Hertfordshire. The school has built their ethos on perseverance, self-regulation and empathy. Alongside improvements in attitudes to learning and self-regulation that demonstrate the success of the programme, Ofsted notes that “students develop the qualities of character to become successful citizens”

North East

  • Emmanuel College, a secondary school in Gateshead. Pupils are challenged to take responsibility for others, developing core values of courage, determination, honourable purpose and compassion. The school focuses on tailored character building through an awards scheme in years 7 and 8, and through developing personal development plans in years 9 to 11
  • Percy Hedley School in Newcastle upon Tyne, a special school for children with cerebral palsy and/or speech and language difficulties. The school has developed programmes focusing on social communication in order to develop problem-solving and ‘can do’ attitudes in pupils
  • Northumberland County Council Youth Service, which has developed innovative programmes that develop confidence, responsibility and social skills in partnership with Cramlington Learning Village. The Northumberland Challenge helps young people to undertake voluntary, outdoor and enterprise activities

North West

  • St Michael’s C of E Primary School in Alkrington, Rochdale, which fosters respect for ourselves and others, while encouraging responsibility for our actions. The school’s curriculum has driven up standards in literacy through engaging children in experiences that build empathy
  • Bolton Lads and Girls Club, a social-action programme. The club, through its young citizens programme, helps to build resilience, responsibility, self-confidence and self-control in 10- to 14-year-olds in schools across Bolton. Many of the children come from disadvantaged backgrounds and feedback from schools proves that the programme impacts on children’s attainment. The group hopes that in the future every school in Bolton can host its own young citizens programme
  • 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

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