How Does Character Education Impact Academic Attainment?

Our partners at Role Models discuss how character skills like resilience and collaboration enhance academic development.

Ask most parents what they wish for their child and they will outline two things - success and happiness. Success can be quantified in many different ways but in an educational context this often means reaching academic potential and striving for excellence.

There has been much debate about academic knowledge versus ‘softer’ skills and how we can develop both alongside each other, but what is the correlation between the two?

We would all agree that attributes such as resilience, integrity, perseverance and empathy help to create a well-rounded individual who can lead effectively, have positive interactions with others and build healthy relationships (helping tick off that happiness goal mentioned above).

However, these skills also contribute to the development of a competent academic student, who has the necessary attributes to make progress and succeed academically.

Knowledge and talent alone are not enough. In order to reach true academic potential, students must develop the right mindset to understand both their capabilities and the responsibility they hold in their academic journey.

A growth mindset will allow them to develop self-efficacy and a readiness to keep trying at the things that might not come easily to them. They will also begin to truly understand the link between effort and progress. Resilience will equip them with the strategies and tenacity needed to continue when things don’t go to plan.

More specifically, a child exposed to character education will be a child who is more likely to:

  • put their hand up in class
  • relish the opportunity to take on challenges and push themselves with their learning
  • learn from a low exam result rather than crumble from it
  • have well developed study skills and self-discipline
  • be intrinsically motivated to achieve their best
  • take on board feedback from teachers
  • understand that one low mark or result does not define them or their potential

Through character education, we can develop happier, healthier students who have effective learning skills, who take responsibility for their own progress and success. The outcomes of good character education provision in schools include highly motivated pupils, fewer absences and lower levels of emotional distress; there’s no denying that these three things also directly impact academic attainment.

This article was written by Louise Treherne, Director of Character Education at Role Models. Louise has a degree in Psychology, 12 years experience as a teacher and 5 years as a Senior Deputy Head at a London Prep school. She now works as a Professional Coach and Educational Consultant.

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