A widely reported study by the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues (University of Birmingham) demonstrates clearly the importance of considering education as an experience for the whole child.
The report caught the headlines with figures such as:
The study found that children who took part in a musical activity were 17 per cent more likely to make a good moral choice than those who didn't.
Children who took part in drama outside school were 14 per cent more likely to choose the more moral option (see Classic FM news for this story in full)
What was less widely reported were the concerns of teachers about the impact of an education system so fixated on examinations and assessments. The key findings stated that 80% of teachers interviewed by the Jubilee Centre stated that the British assessment system hinders the development of the whole child. In other words, the current system can hold back the development of a child's moral character. The majority claimed that exams have become so pervasive in schools that they have crowded out other educational goods. (click here to read the full report).
With the emphasis on tracking progression towards summative examinations through regular and systematic assessment, this clearly raises serious concerns about compatibility of such an approach with the development of the whole child; thereby making the active engagement of parents of singular importance.
We all believe the education is more than the learning that takes place inside the school walls. The value of informed, supported parental engagement is emphasised by this report. In their conclusions the authors assert the central importance of a whole school approach that would involve joining forces with colleagues, parents and other organisations (charities, sport clubs) so that character building activities at school, home and elsewhere do not contradict, and ideally would reinforce, each other.