Character and Education (closed)
The Character and Education grants round funds and evaluates a series of projects that aim to develop a set of attitudes, skills and behaviours that are thought to underpin success in school and work, such as motivation, grit, resilience, self-control, self-confidence, social and emotional skills, and communication skills.
‘Non-cognitive skills’ such as motivation and resilience are increasingly considered to be important in determining positive outcomes for children. The Department for Education and the EEF are interested in what can be done to help children and young people develop skills for life and work, which both complement and underpin academic attainment, and prepare young people for success in adult life. Evidence suggests that support to develop these skills is likely to be particularly important for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The following links provide some background reading and summaries of existing evidence:
- The Impact of Non-cognitive Skills on Outcomes for Young People: A literature review funded by EEF and the Cabinet Office, and conducted by the Institute of Education
- The Sutton Trust-EEF Teaching and Learning Toolkit. An accessible summary of research studies, including an overview of the evidence on social and emotional learning
- Teaching Adolescents to Become Learners: The Role of Non-Cognitive Factors in Shaping School Performance: A literature review by the University of Chicago.
- Jubilee Centre: Character and Attainment: A summary of literature on the relationship between character education and academic attainment.
- Character and Resilience Manifesto: A report from the APPG on Social Mobility, which provides an overview of the case for focusing on character and resilience.
- The Early Intervention Foundation: Review of what works for social and emotional skills(forthcoming). This report, due to be published in spring 2015, will review the evidence on important skills for life and work.
Existing EEF projects in this area
The EEF has already funded a range of projects that aim to build skills, attitudes or behaviours as a route to improving engagement and attainment at school (see table below). For more information about these, please see the Projects section of our website. These should provide some illustrative examples of the types of initiatives that we are interested in, though we are open to a wide range of ideas and approaches that can provide evidence that they are likely to be effective. Please note: we are unlikely to support applications that are very similar in approach to those that we have already funded.
|Programme and delivery organisation||Description|
|Changing Mindsets |
|A test of Dweck’s theory of ‘growth mindset’, which suggests that intelligence is a malleable quality that can be improved through effort, not a fixed entity. This project will evaluate two models: teacher delivery and university students teaching primary school pupils about growth mindset theory.|
|Engage in Education |
|A project providing small group and one to one support for pupils in Years 9 and 10 at high risk of exclusion. Targeted pupils receive training in areas such as emotional literacy and communication, with the aim of improving behaviour, attitudes to learning and school engagement.|
|Philosophy for Children |
|A project that aims to equip children with the thinking skills to ‘do’ philosophy for themselves. Facilitated by the classroom teacher, children discuss an interesting philosophical question. The approach aims to improve children's abilities and dispositions to question, reason, construct arguments and collaborate with others.|
|Improving Talk and ListeningSchool21 & Cambridge University||A project that aims is to develop confident, articulate speakers, and to improve classroom talk in order to foster better thinking and attainment by giving oracy the same place in the curriculum as reading and writing. The project will develop a set of interventions that schools can use to boost pupils’ speaking skills.|
|Act, Sing, Play Creative futures||A test of the link between learning singing or a musical instrument and academic attainment. Children are taught to sing using the ‘Kodaly’ method, or to play a stringed instrument using the Suzuki method. A control group of children will participate in drama lessons.|
|Powerful Learning Conversations Youth Sports Trust||Testing aspects of feedback central to sports coaching, eg, the fact that the feedback is rapid, immediate and reciprocal and that students are less likely to respond negatively to criticism due to the way the feedback is delivered. This project will develop and test a training programme for English and maths teachers|
|Developing Healthy Minds in Teenagers |
How to Thrive and LSE
|A project that will test a curriculum of evidence-based programmes that seek to improve pupils’ resilience, life skills, and wellbeing, delivered in PSHE sessions for years 7–10. The curriculum is based on cognitive behavioural therapy, and a review of interventions in Durlak meta-analysis, eg, Penn Resilience Programme.|
|Talk of the Town The Communications Trust||A project providing support to schools to focus on speech, language and communication for all their pupils. Schools are provided with information about the importance of communication skills, and teachers are trained to identify and support pupils with speech, language and communication needs.|
|Youth Social Action Trial: Primary |
|A project in primary schools that encourages children to take part in extra-curricular activities, volunteer in the community, and learn new skills. This project will test how far such extra-curricular activities impact on engagement, attainment and non-cognitive skills such as motivation, confidence and team-working.|
|Youth Social Action Trial: Secondary Youth United Foundation||A project in secondary schools that encourages children to undertake challenging activities, volunteer in the community, and learn new skills. This project will test how far such extra-curricular activities impact on engagement, attainment and non-cognitive skills such as motivation, confidence and team-working.|
|Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies Manchester University||A primary school project that covers topics such as identifying and labelling feelings, controlling impulses, reducing stress, and understanding other people's perspectives. Several randomised controlled trials in the US and UK have found positive effects of the intervention on social skills and emotional well-being.|
|The Good Behaviour Game|
Mentor Foundation UK
|A project that aims to improve behaviour in primary school, particularly by encouraging good group behaviour, and self-control. This study builds on promising evidence from a trial in the US, which found attainment, improved levels of progress on leaving school, and improved health outcomes.|
|Inclusive Behavioural ProgrammeInstitute of Education, UCL||A whole-school approach to improve behaviour, social and emotional skills, and school engagement, and reduce bullying. The intervention is based on restorative justice principles, a pupil-led review of school policies, and a social and emotional learning programme in secondary schools.|