Character and resilience are as important as academic achievement

Damien Hinds, the education secretary, recently announced his vision for Five Foundations for Building Character: sport, creativity, performing, volunteering & membership and the world of work.

I have heard repeatedly from teachers, parents and young people themselves about the areas of activity that will help develop character and resilience. They combine elements that will stretch and challenge and will help young people think, develop and grow and which will enhance their self-esteem and their confidence.
— Damien Hinds

The Franklin Scholars programme fits neatly into the volunteering & membership category, as this is defined as any programme that, ‘brings together teams for practical action in the service of others or groups.’ At the start of the year, all of our Franklin Scholars commit to a year of voluntary support for a vulnerable younger pupil in their school. As well as their weekly commitment of an hour to their mentee, they also engage in social action workshops. In these workshops, they are required to work together to find wide-scale, realistic solutions to some of society’s most prevalent problems, including how to engage more young people to vote and how to reduce school waste.


Additionally, although we do not take our Franklin Scholars into the workplace, we do recruit them through a two-stage recruitment process involving an online application and short face-to-face interview. For most of our participants, this will be their first experience of an interview process and we provide personalised feedback to all of our applicants, whether they are successful or not. Having this experience and feedback is a valued first step in preparing them for the world of work.

Alongside his work, Mr Hinds has recommended that pupils also learn about the importance of positive personal attributes – such as perseverance, self-respect, self-worth, honesty, courage, kindness, generosity, trustworthiness and a sense of justice - as part of the new Relationships, Sex and Health Education curriculum. Many of the key skills he highlighted, such as perseverance, self-worth and courage, are the skills that form our ABCD shield, the framework upon which the entire programme is based, meaning that our programme directly aligns with the skills that the education secretary is advocating.

The Franklin Scholars ABCD shield

The Franklin Scholars ABCD shield

At Franklin Scholars, we have always believed that the development of softer skills is as important as academic attainment, so we are delighted to continue to deliver a programme that balances these two elements. All of our participants engage in group skills-building activities, 1:1 academic tutoring and 1:1 coaching in our weekly one hour sessions and it is the combination of these activities that leads to the positive benefits we see for both our older and younger participants.