Call for character to be taught in schools

Schools should embrace a character based curriculum to prepare young people for modern day life and work according to leading educationists Guy Claxton and Bill Lucas.

Professors Claxton and Lucas, acknowledged thought-leaders in education, say the curriculum should put as much emphasis on character and creative thinking as it does achieving grades.

They have spelled out their findings in a new book called Educating Ruby: what our children really need to learn, which takes its title from the 1980’s stage show and movie Educating Rita.

Guy – who created a media storm when he suggested erasers should be banned in classrooms – says the education system hasn’t kept up with the times.

“Young people are leaving school, college and university having spent years working hard for good exam results but ill-prepared for the demands of an ever evolving modern workplace.

“The school curriculum remains doggedly focused on the three Rs when what is also needed is more teaching that prepares children for modern day life and work – to be taught to think imaginatively, ask good questions, keep going in the face of difficulty, solve problems, use technology and work with people with different viewpoints rather than just taught to pass exams blindly.

Co-author Bill Lucas says other countries are already leading the way – and the UK needs to catch up fast:

“Countries such as Finland, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand already recognise that children need to be taught in different ways to prepare them for today’s world and now focus on character based curricula with the emphasis on confidence, curiosity, collaboration, communication, creativity, commitment and craftsmanship, what we refer to as the 7Cs.”


  1. Schools are failing too many students with their relentless test and exam pressure. They have to change and the change needs to be owned by parents, not politicians
  2. The curriculum and its methods of delivery must be updated to reflect today’s needs. How Ruby is taught is at least as important as what she is taught. The 7Cs are grown through interactions with good teachers
  3. Children need to be taught to understand that struggling and making mistakes are normal and healthy aspects of learning and to feel empowered to experiment and not see mistakes as failure. Embracing this ideal helps give the classroom wallflowers, who typically remain silent, the confidence to contribute
  4. A growing number of respected organisations including the Confederation of British Industry, Parent Teachers Association, Association of School and College Leaders and the Royal Society of Arts support this thinking, as well as headteachers in all corners of the UK


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