Youth Social Action at the heart of Character Education Guidance for Schools

The Department for Education launched guidance for schools on Tuesday 5th November, highlighting the critical role volunteering and service plays in pupils’ character education. The guidance builds on evidence shared by #iwill campaign partners and #iwill Ambassadors with the DfE earlier this year highlighting the powerful impact social action can have on young people, empowering them to be compassionate, active citizens.

Volunteering and service to others is one of six character benchmarks within the guidance, designed to help schools to evaluate their own work and improve their provision of good quality character education:

In addition to this, the other five benchmarks also incorporate #iwill campaign priorities, including the importance of whole-school approaches to character education, inclusive provision, working in partnership with external organisations and youth voice.

Dame Julia Cleverdon, Trustee of Step Up To Serve and member of the DfE Character Advisory Group said: 

‘As co-founder of the #iwill  campaign, I’m so delighted that ‘volunteering and service to others’ is clearly highlighted in the Character Education Framework. Great teachers across the country know that young people taking part in social action shapes their skills, values and voice while building their confidence, empathy, and  resilience. Now is a great opportunity for the Department of Education to  work with schools to share best practice so that many more young people, particularly from low-income backgrounds, are able to build skills and character through making a positive difference to their communities.’

Rania Marandos, Chief Executive of Step Up To Serve, said: 

Since the launch of the campaign, we have seen more and more teachers indicate that supporting their pupils to take part in social action is part of their school’s culture and practice. We also know that most young people get involved in social action through their schools or college. This guidance can act as a strong foundation on which schools can take whole-school approaches to make a positive impact in their communities.  Volunteering and serving others is not a ‘nice-to-have’ for schools; it’s a vital part route through which they prepare their students be active citizens both now and in the future. 

Lamide Odanye, #iwill Ambassador and co-founder of LIVE said: 

‘The Department of Education has done a great job highlighting the importance of ‘volunteering and service to others’. If used properly, these benchmarks can empower young people to lead, voice their opinions and harness their passions. 

This is a great time for schools to use this framework to work in collaboration with their students to create a co-curriculum that truly reflects the young people’s needs and enable them to acquire the social confidence needed to be active, engaged citizens and ultimately, make their communities and the world a better place’.