Character building

Think tank: Social Market Foundation

Author(s): Rt Hon the Baroness Morgan of Cotes

January 22, 2024

This report from UK think tank the Social Market Foundation outlines the importance of character development in education.

New technologies and new challenges mean that young people today will need more than just technical skills and knowledge to be prepared for the careers of tomorrow.

In this Social Market Foundation briefing, Baroness Morgan of Cotes outlines the importance of character development in education, and considers what policymakers can do to ensure it is prioritised appropriately. For all the vital progress made in the English education system, with a more rigorous curriculum and more students securing foundational knowledge, it is increasingly clear that to ensure young people are career ready requires the education system to develop their ‘character’. Traits like self-belief, determination, self-control and coping skills are critical to educational success and valued by employers. While the careers and education system is increasingly holistic, we should seek to build on innovative practice to ensure more students can benefit from such opportunities.

Policymakers should ask themselves three sets of questions: Are there enough opportunities inside and outside the curriculum to develop the character traits young people need for the future, and are these tracked and are they equally distributed? How can we strengthen the role of employers in the system and what further incentives are there to ensure their outreach activities build the traits needed for the future? How best can we support teachers with space, time and development to develop character traits?