It is a natural sentiment for parents to want the best for their children and many who have entered the teaching profession have done so because of their love of children.

What do we mean by character building and why is there ever greater emphasis on it as a necessary part of a child’s development and education?

The London 2012 Olympic Games provide an ideal incentive for each of us to shine and enjoy the rewards from raising our personal development bar and supporting one another and children as we go for gold in all that we do and in every aspect of our lives.

How can we achieve this heightened state?

Let’s start by considering what we VALUE, what we treasure, because this is where much of our energy is absorbed. It may be that we value:

  • our health and wellbeing
  • our families and friends
  • our homes and neighbourhoods
  • our work and income
  • our environment and the wider world

How would inhabitants of Kepler-22b rate Planet Earth beings?

If inhabitants of the newly discovered Kepler-22b planet were to quietly visit Earth’s atmosphere and observe the activity on Planet Earth, how would they rate the way we live and how we are looking after our planet?  Would they be surprised to see widespread, unsustainable modes of operation that appear to be posing a very serious threat to the very existence of our blue planet?

It is possible that one observation would be that many Earth beings don’t seem to be enjoying the realisation of their full potential due to operating and bringing up their young in a debilitating climate of moral uncertainty. In the minds of our galactic cousins, they might wonder why this matter is not being more urgently addressed, not least for the sake of the health and well-being of Planet Earth and all other forms of life on it.

What is it like being at school?

Were your school days the best days of your life? Are our schools today exciting our children and young people? Are they places in which we are opening the hearts and minds of every single child? Do pupils find that their schools  provide a network of support, advice and friendship in which they can blossom and reach their full potential in the knowledge that all the staff and the key adults in their home environments are behind them and keen for them to do well and be happy? Do today’s young citizens leave school with a vision for themselves, inspiring values to guide to their thinking and choices and full of purpose so that they will constantly strive to be victorious in all aspects of their lives?

What are the expectations of 21st-century education?

Considering young citizens of school age, the global debate indicates that ultimately the answer tends to be broadly the all-round or holistic development of each person.   Key to achieving this is thoughtful nurturing of the different aspects of individuals and their talents, at home and at school – and hence the SPIES!

A huge emphasis has been placed on the prevention of last month's riots occurring again in the future. Strategies have been put in place that will encourage students during their transition from primary school to secondary and fifty million pounds was pledged by Mr Nick Clegg at the Liberal Democrat conference that will facilitate this. But how can we find new ways of adapting the PSHE curriculum to help prevent such events from occurring in the future?

It would perhaps be fair to say that within the curriculum itself, more emphasis needs to be placed on being a model citizen and a good member of the community.

On 21 July 2011, Nick Gibb MP, Minister of State for Schools, launched a review of Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education stating that “The aim of the review is to consider the essential knowledge and awareness that pupils need to be taught, so that they understand the world around them and are able to manage their lives, now and in the future.”

In May 2011, the Department for Education stated that “Citizenship gives pupils the knowledge, skills and understanding to play an effective role in society. It helps them to become informed, thoughtful and responsible citizens aware of duties and rights. It promotes their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, making them more self-confident. It encourages pupils to play a helpful part in the life of their school, community and world.”

Globalisation and rapid, continuous technological change are presenting enormous challenges and making education ever more critical in preparing students for work and citizenship. In modern knowledge economies, education is not only the main driver of growth but a key social equalizer. However, it is vital that matters are kept in perspective so that education not only raises academic performance but also develops and nurtures the personal growth of children and young people by embracing domains such as their emotional wellbeing, their attitudes, their self-esteem and social competencies and their abilities to communicate well, since all these capacities are essential to each individual’s long-term happiness, relationships and attainment, whatever his or her role in today’s complex and extensively interconnected ‘global village’.

There is no doubt that education leaders around the world are deeply aware of the challenges of creating appropriate education systems for today’s new era of rapid change and globalisation and recognise that education excellence is essential to the future success of individuals as family members, in the workplace and as informed, participatory citizens in their local communities and within society at large. Effective schooling aims to educate the whole child, with PSHE education and Citizenship being two of the key components in the mix towards achieving this.

PSHE Education and Ethical Citizenship provide opportunities for some of the essential building blocks of young lives today and our legacy for the future.

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