Character education: a call to action for the DfE and all activity providers

So today Damian Hinds addressed the Church of England Foundation for Education Leadership #rethinkingresilience conference to talk about character education. “School days are about much more than just getting qualifications” he said. Yes, Mr Hinds! As Children’s University has long been saying; by the time a child turns 18, they will only have spent 9% of their waking life in a classroom. Children’s University is all about unlocking the potential of that remaining 91% of time.

Once again, I’m heartened to see the importance and impact of learning beyond the classroom being spoken about by government. Yet once again I’m frustrated that there is more we can all do to join the dots! After writing to Damian Hinds in November I was pleased to meet with the Department for Education’s Character and Wellbeing Team, but we should arguably be in constant contact. Children’s University is an existing network of partners supporting over 110,000 children in over 1,000 schools — our managers are some of the country’s most experienced people in getting children access to character education opportunities.

Work with us to join the dots

It’s right that you should be praising the likes of the Scouts, Guides and Duke of Edinburgh Award — Children’s University loves what they all do and what they offer children, along with thousands of other organisations that provide opportunities beyond the classroom. But what makes Children’s University so special is that we exist to amplify the impact these organisations have. We signpost children to them, encourage them to try new things, and reward participation. We don’t compete with anyone, we just work to compliment and benefit all other organisations in this space so that every child, regardless of background, can access learning opportunities beyond the classroom which improve their future life chances. If you’re looking to improve how schools can help join the dots, look no further.

See our new digital offer — Children’s University Online

We are currently in a pre-launch phase of Children’s University Online — a new online platform that will signpost children to activities and opportunities near them. Not only that, but because we’re tagging all activities using skills, categories and engagement information, we’ll be able to report on exactly the pillars you’re talking about being so important.

An example of the reporting we’re able to offer on the number of opportunities available for children (nationally, or in a particular location) by category.

Activities are categorised so we can identify opportunities with uniformed groups, family learning activities, sports, and social action. Your five foundations are all catered for.

We’re working with the skillset outlined by Skills Builder so that we can be clear on what essential skills children are gaining. We’re also monitoring what activities include FE / HE and employer engagement so we can help schools report against the Gatsby Benchmarks.

An example of the reporting we’re able to offer on the number of opportunities available for children (nationally, or in a particular location) by skills gained in line with the Skills Builder skill set

A call to action to all activity providers and the Department for Education

Activity providers — If you want to get your offer for children validated and featured as part of Children’s University, take 10 minutes out of your day and submit your information here. You can become a part of Children’s University Online:

Mr Hinds — If you’re setting up an advisory group to explore how you can best support schools in developing character, on behalf of Children’s University I’d like to throw my hat into the ring. As active members of the Fair Education Alliance, I’d like to echo Sam Butters’ invitation.