Education Secretary to extend access to cadet-style character building activities

7 February 2019

All children must have access to a wide range of activities to help them build the character and resilience they need to succeed, Education Secretary Damian Hinds said today (Thursday 7 February).

In a speech to the Church of England’s Foundation for Educational Leadership conference, the Education Secretary called time on the phrase ‘public school confidence’, saying that he wanted children from all backgrounds to be able to develop such confidence through character building activities. Mr Hinds said that all children should be able to access at least one activity from each of “five foundations for building character” - sport, creativity, performing, volunteering and membership, and the world of work - so that every child has the opportunity to try something they enjoy and find something they want to continue with.

“I am proposing the five foundations for building character, broad areas of activity which will help develop character and resilience in young people. All of them combine elements that will stretch and challenge and will help young people think, develop and grow and which will enhance their self-esteem and confidence. This is a distillation of what I have heard repeatedly from teachers, parents, children…”

The Department for Education already supports activities like the Combined Cadet Force and the National Citizen Service which many young people benefit from. Other external organisations like the Army Cadets, Air Cadets, Sea Cadets and the Scouts, Guides and sports clubs provide character building opportunities outside of school.

During the speech the Education Secretary pledged to improve the sharing of information between organisations and schools, so pupils, parents and teachers can be signposted to character building activities near them.

Brig Mark Christie, Deputy Commander Cadets for Army Cadet Force, said; “Taking part in ACF activities is proven to help young people to develop confidence, resilience and key life skills but for those who can’t take part we welcome this new initiative from the Education Secretary to help more young people to have access to character building activities.”

Cadet Lewis Bowman (12) from Kent ACF is just one example of the impact the ACF has on young people. Having faced bullying at school Lewis says: “The cadets have given me confidence in myself. I have friends that I know will not judge me, that are there for me. I am learning to become more independent and confident in doing things that I feel I could not have completed without the aid of cadets.”