Reading, Writing and Righteousness

By DeusExMacintosh

Schools should build character, say parents

Most parents want schools to encourage values such as honesty and fairness in pupils, a survey suggests. Some 87% say schools should play a wider role than just delivering academic results.

More than 1,000 parents were questioned by Populus for the University of Birmingham’s Jubilee Centre for Character and Values.

“Many schools do not know how to teach character”, said Prof James Arthur, the centre’s director.

“They might have a statement of values, but too often they are bland paragraphs that have little impact on what goes on in the classroom.”

Deputy director Tom Harrison added: “We are not saying academic skills are not important – it’s just got out of kilter.”

“Clever children are great, but they also need be able to turn up on time and be honest, self-disciplined and respectful in the workplace,” Mr Harrison told BBC News.

Some 84% of the parents polled said it was part of the role of a teacher to encourage good morals and values in students – while 81% agreed schools should set out the core values they aimed to instil in students.

An overwhelming 95% said it was possible to teach a child values and shape their character in a positive way at school through lessons, team-building exercises or voluntary work.

Only 5% said children would pick up these traits from their peers and experiences at school.

Some 13% said schools should focus on delivering academic results rather than shaping character. Of this group, most said their child learned good values at home and about a third said it was not the government’s role to guide a child’s life.

BBC News


  1. Carlos
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    84% parental opt-out

  2. John Turner
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    There is an easy way to teach children values and at the same time expand their intellectual capacity. In 2001-2 the Clackmannanshire, Scotland, project conducted discussion of open ended question between students for one hour per week fore fifty weeks. The outcome was a substantial reduction in poor behaviour including almost the elimination of bullying (attempted domination), far better communication between students and teachers and a 6.5 % improvement in intellectual results (CAT scores). An equivalent number of students in a control group showed no evidence of such improvements.
    Retesting some time later showed that the benefits were long lasting (the divergence between the two test groups had become even greater. The trial results are available at;
    In NSW ethic classes are aiming at a similar outcome.

  3. Posted September 3, 2013 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    The “talking cure” indeed. Thanks for that link, John.

  4. Alan Tapper
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Further to John Turner’s comment, Stephan Millett and I have published a survey of “community of inquiry” education, which shows significant benefits to children’s socialisation. This approach is quite widely used around Australia, but less so in NSW.

    Abstract: In the past decade well-designed research studies have shown that the practice of collaborative philosophical inquiry in schools can have marked cognitive and social benefits. Student academic performance improves, and so too does the social dimension of schooling. These findings are timely, as many countries in Asia and the Pacific are now contemplating introducing Philosophy into their curricula. This paper gives a brief history of collaborative philosophical inquiry before surveying the evidence as to its effectiveness. The evidence is canvassed under two categories: schooling and thinking skills; and schooling, socialisation and values. In both categories there is clear evidence that even short-term teaching of collaborative philosophical inquiry has marked positive effects on students. The paper concludes with suggestions for further research and a final claim that the presently-available research evidence is strong enough to warrant implementing collaborative philosophical inquiry as part of a long-term policy.

    Source: Educational Philosophy and Theory
    Volume 44, Issue 5, pages 546–567, July 2012

  5. Posted September 4, 2013 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    Clearly Tasmanian schools aren’t doing so well on encouraging values. It’s even had academic consequences…

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