Character Education

Character education is an emerging pedagogical approach to increasing the academic attainment of learners through the development and awareness of character.

The Department for Education understands character education to include any activities that aim to develop desirable character traits or attributes in children and young people. They believe that such desirable character traits:

  • Can support improved academic attainment;
  • Are valued by employers; and
  • Can enable children to make a positive contribution to British society.

Nottingham Trent University has identified six characteristics present in successful students, known as PEPPER:

  • Purpose – a sense of self and academic purpose
  • Effort – an ability to draw on intrinsic motivation to ensure effort across all aspects of academia
  • Positivity – the ability to remain positive in the face of academic adversity
  • Personal responsibility – an understanding of personal agency in success
  • Enquiring mind – asking questions in and around the current learning
  • Resilience – identifying where there are opportunities to develop through challenges

PEPPER is a reflective framework with its themes underpinning activities and provision.

Character Education Participatory Action Learning Set (Ch Ed PALS)

Looking for a way to develop, or evidence, your character education provision in school?

The Centre for Student and Community Engagement (CenSCE) will be facilitating a Character Education Participatory Action Learning Set (Character Education PALS) throughout the academic year 2019/20. This year long partnership will allow yourself and your school to be research informed in your practice, regardless of where you currently are with character provision for your pupils and allow you to evidence the impact of provision in the character development of your pupils.

Why Character Education?

Ofsted define character as;

“A set of positive personality traits, dispositions and virtues that informs pupils motivations and guides their conduct so that they reflect wisely, learn eagerly, behave with integrity and cooperate consistently well with others. This gives pupils the qualities they need to flourish in our society”.

These qualities have been shown to impact favourably on attainment and wellbeing in young people particularly as part of a planned taught whole school approach.

Character education is a taught programme specifically to enhance pupil’s knowledge, literacy and practice around character leading to flourishing individuals. It is most effective as part of a whole school approach to character development and awareness rather than a stand-alone activity. The character virtues targeted as part of a taught programme can often align with a school’s ethos and mission statements and are delivered in a variety of different formats.

What can participation in ChEdPALS provide your school?

Schools participating in the ChEd PALS will have the opportunity to develop a school specific character education intervention using evidence and research into what works in a supportive environment made up of likeminded educators from Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. Evaluation plans will be draw up in collaboration with NTU and evidence of impact reports will be generated for the school at the end of the academic year.  This unique opportunity for schools to personalise their intervention whilst still working in collaborative partnership with NTU is based on the fact that,

“Everything works somewhere but not everything works everywhere”

Schools know their pupils and which characteristics matter for success in their location.

To find out more, please email

What is the commitment?

School commitment

  • Year long, whole school buy-in
  • Nominated member of staff
  • Delivery of intervention
  • Collection of data

NTU Commitment

  • Facilitated learning environment
  • Evidence informed support in planning
  • Dedicated character education contact
  • Evidence of impact report

Here are some important dates for your diary, for the 2019-20 academic year:

Autumn term
  • Attend information evening on either Wednesday October 30th 17:30-19:00 or Wednesday November 6th 17:30-19:00
  • Consider and discuss with school leaders the suitability and aims of involvement for your school.
  • Decide on a school lead, or team, responsible for the project by November 8th
  • Formalise partnership agreement and expectations by November 15th
Winter term

School lead(s) attend PALS sessions:

  • Reflection – November 20th 17:30 – 19:00
  • Research – November 27th 17:30 – 19:00
  • Evaluation – December 4th 17:30 – 19:00
  • Agreed plan for programme delivery by December 20th
  • Agreed plan for evaluation and data collection by December 20th
Spring term
  • Delivery by school of agreed programme completed by April 3rd
  • Data sets given to NTU by April 3rd
  • Completed staff reflection journals given to NTU by April 24th
Summer term
  • Respond to surveys by June 19th
  • Provide access to pupils and staff for focus groups between June 15th and June 26th
  • Provide feedback on evidence of impact reports by July 17th

Currently expressions of interest are being gathered by emailing

Natasha, who will lead on this project, is currently studying for an MA in Character Education with the University of Birmingham’s Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues and will bring her experience as an educator as well as researcher to facilitate the individual development for yourself and school.

Still need help?

Contact CenSCE