Is ‘Character-building’ the answer to declining Social Mobility?

Is ‘Character-building’ the answer to declining Social Mobility? The Secretary of State for Education seems to think so. 

On 7th February the Education Secretary, Damian Hinds unveiled his ‘Five Foundations to build character’ in a speech for the Church of England.

The Five Foundations are: Sport, Creativity, Performing, Volunteering & Membership and World of Work.

When asked which of the foundations he preferred when he was at school, Hinds revealed his participation in the dramatic arts, though declined to comment what his largest role was.

One facet of this ‘character’ that the Minister would like to see built in children is confidence, in particular ‘public school confidence’. The SoS admits that this confidence is key to gaining opportunities later in life.

Chief Scout Bear Grylls, ASCL’s Geoff Barton and Head of Ofsted Amanda Spielman all backed the announcement. Indeed, Ofsted’s new framework will include a section on ‘personal development judgement’

This focus on building resilience is being billed as a key step to improving social mobility, something that is declining, or at least stagnating, across the country. Indeed, at a speech at the Resolution Foundation last year, Hinds included Resilience as one of the ‘Seven Truths’ of increasing social mobility.

At number 4 was ‘what happens after the school bell rings.’ With news last week of public Health England warning of children’s amount of screen time, a drive to increase the amount of time spent out of doors, climbing trees or clock towers, as Bear Grylls did in his youth.

You can draw your own conclusions that Resilience itself was listed separately as the seventh biggest factor – behind ‘second chances’.