Schoolzone blog: £3.5 million to build character

£3.5 million to build character
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17 Dec 2014

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Yesterday we bemoaned the lack of funding for education and then, as if by magic, Nicky Morgan annouces £3.5 million, "to place character education on a par with academic learning". Is that all we spend on academic learning then? Shurely shome mishtake?

And can you teach character anyway? I've certainly taught a few characters in my time. But Morgan is probably thinking more adjective, less noun. The DfE is also spending a further £1 million to answer this question.

Here's how you teach character, apparently:

  • Produce unabridged Shakespeare plays from Y7 onwards
  • Provide time for students to ‘master’ personal goals, such as grammar, an instrument or a language
  • Offer projects run by former armed service personnel
  • Anything else which you can persuade the DfE results in better grades, improved behaviour or improved job prospects - if you want a slice of the £3.5million

It's a "milestone in preparing young people more than ever before for life in modern Britain" which prompts more questions: do milestones prepare anyone for anything? Can anyone ever be anything other than better prepared for life in modern Britain since by definition modern is "of the moment".

It's also "a landmark step for our education system. It will cement our position as a global leader in teaching character" - sounds as if the DfE PR machine is trying to beat yesterday's mixed-metaphor challenge.

Unfortunately, they haven't found room in this mangled message to explain how schools get their hands on a share of the loot, though there is a reference to another press release which seems to mash together two separate projects and which mentions:

  • £15,000 each for up to 27 schools in all 9 regions of the country, to be announced in February
  • A further national prize of £20,000 to 1 winner, to be announced at an awards ceremony in March

However, this adds up to £3.8 million, so not sure where the other half a million comes from, if this is the same funding as that "announced" today.

Schools aren't going to be falling over themselves to develop anything new for this amount of money, especially in a competitive environment, but they may apply, based on initiatives they are currently involved in. There may be an opportunity for charities and schools to work together, to benefit from this funding, for example.





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