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SSAT Reform Discussion Dinner November 2014

On the evening of 24 November 2014 a number of high profile figures from the world of education gathered to discuss how schools can develop students’ “character”.

The evening started with input from a speaker to which there was a response. This was followed by an informal discussion, under Chatham House rules.

Key messages for policymakers and further areas for research are highlighted at the end of the accompanying document.


The opening
The speaker began by assessing the history of character education in this country, some of the complexities of the topic and assessing its current position in schools and in policy. In particular they emphasised the following points:

  • The concept of character and character education is a terminological and ideological minefield. Much of current thinking is based on the excellent work of Aristotle.
  • Character education is an umbrella term for all explicit and implicit educational activities that help young people develop positive personal strengths called virtues – character education is the development of good sense or practical wisdom: the capacity to choose intelligently between alternatives. And crucially it is informed by a set of universally acknowledged virtues.
  • It has not solely been the domain of private schools and religious institutions. Much influence came from elsewhere, for example the Ethical Union which was established in 1886. In fact, character was seen as the chief aim of education…read more here.

The proposed College of Teaching needs complete autonomy for it to be meaningful.

23 December 2014

SEND reform: how ready are local authorities – and how ready is your school?

16 January 2015