Last month saw the publication of research by the University of Birmingham (http://www.jubileecentre.ac.uk/1587/projects/current-projects/flourishing-from-the-margins) which The Switch Project was absolutely delighted to have had involvement in.
The project was born out of previous work that saw a set of resources introducing the concept of character and values into the primary and secondary curriculum (http://www.jubileecentre.ac.uk/1610/character-education/resources).
These resources are extremely comprehensive, but not necessarily suitable for those young people who access our service, those excluded or at risk of exclusion from school. Therefore, we worked closely with the University of Birmingham and a number of other organisations to write, develop and trial the resources to better meet the needs of our young people, above all else being better targeted and more appropriate to their needs.
Alongside the resources, the research project sought to compare the responses of young people in mainstream provision with those in non-mainstream provision regarding their perceptions of, “Sense of purpose, factors influencing their impressions of living a ‘good life’, and their sense of character development.” The findings were looking to consider the effectiveness of character led teaching resources with marginalised young people and provide an opportunity for marginalised young people to speak about the impact of character development.
Participants in non-mainstream provision showed greater indications that they had a sense of purpose in life than those in mainstream settings More than half of all participants felt that they understood their life’s meaning, and nearly two-thirds of participants indicated that they had a good sense of what made their life meaningful. Participants categorised as ‘having purpose’ reported that family and friends, and
particularly teachers and members of the community, had a greater and more positive influence on their sense of living a ‘good life’.
Tutors in non-mainstream settings considered their roles as character educators carefully, and reported that adopting a character-led approach to teaching challenged them to consider their own character development in addition to that of their learners.