Teenagers’ heads are filled with Katie Price and exam results – what they need to learn is character

In an article in the Daily Mail, 20/01/13, Anthony Seldon, Master of Wellington College, says we have lost sight of the purpose of schools.

Snowfall has caused the  closure of many schools and if the poor weather continues, they will remain shut next week. While at home, the children can catch up on the news on Jimmy Savile and his depravities, cyclist Lance Armstrong, who deceived the world with his drug-taking, and Katie Price, the good-time girl who last week married a man on the advice of a psychic. These and other ‘characters’ like them exert huge influence on the nation.

Families have a role to play, but so do schools. Last year, the University of Birmingham founded the Jubilee Centre to study the development of good character. The research shows conclusively that good character traits are better predictors of academic and economic success and happiness than raw IQ.

'Characters' like Katie Price exert a huge influence on the nation. But the Government cares only for improving academic standards, measured by the passing of exams. 

Don’t get me wrong, high standards are  fundamental, and Education Secretary Michael Gove and Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw are changing the landscape of British schooling. But their vision is sadly incomplete. The obsession with exams has caused schools to narrow what they offer, because teachers know they are being judged on academic results alone. 

Does the Government really think employers and universities want people who can pass tests, but lack the ability to think creatively, or the discipline to contribute? Protest about the lack of character in school leavers is rising to a cacophony.

At my own school, Wellington College, our young must abide by five values which they themselves chose: courage, integrity, kindness, responsibility and respect. They are taught self-control and endurance; working in teams on the games field and in the cadet force, learning to overcome their limitations and obey instructions.

Since we started teaching well-being five years ago, where pupils learn to develop resilience, exam performance has rocketed – from 65 per cent A and B grades at A-level to 93 per cent.

Listen Mr Gove! The Government's obsession with exam results is damaging young people for life

But it is not just independent schools. From Kings Langley School in Hertfordshire to the Science Academy in Bradford, the best state schools are concentrating on character, with startling success. King Solomon Academy in London, which has a strong uniform code, celebrates good manners, and teaches each child to aspire, has been transformed in just a few years.

Click here to read the article  ©  The Daily Mail