‘Character’ mentoring helps pull GCSE grades up in deprived Tower Hamlets

Bishop Challoner Secondary where girls' headteacher Nick Soar uses 'character education' to boost sc

Bishop Challoner Secondary where girls' headteacher Nick Soar uses 'character education' to boost school's GCSE pass rates - Credit: Archant

Mentors who work to improve pupils’ character and attitude have helped boost GCSE grades in London’s deprived East End, government figures have shown.

East London’s ReachOut mentoring organisation is said to have contributed to three-out-of-four pupils in Tower Hamlets schools getting five A*-C grades over the past four years.

The 73 per cent is well above the 58pc national average.

Improving pupils’ character helps them stay in education or jobs after GCSEs, with less than one per cent still stuck without work or training six months after leaving school, compared to nearly eight per cent nationally.

“It’s not enough just getting best grades to get a good job,” ReachOut’s chief Xavier Bosch points out. “We help students be altruistic, to work with integrity and treat others fairly, to develope character as well as academic ability.”

The government has begun a £3.5 million push to improve character education following a social mobility manifesto by an All-Party Parliamentary group identifying “character” as key to breaking poverty cycles.

Nowhere has “character” education helped inprove grades more than in the East End.

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Stepney’s Bishop Challoner Girls’ headteacher Nick Soar said: “Change in behaviour and more engagement by students involved in ReachOut’s mentoring has been notable.

“They have built up strong mentoring relationships which encourage them to engage with school and the community.”

The abilities and traits that help deprived youngsters persevere with setbacks and contribute to the community have now been recognised by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan as “equally important” to good GCSE results.

ReachOut uses character education to help yongsters struggling at school by giving one-to-one academic and emotional mentoring. It develops their self-control, sense of fairness, staying power and good judgement, which help improve numeracy, literacy and communication skills.