Character and Values Education in English Schools: What can Private Islamic Faith and State Funded Public Schools Learn from Each Other?
Farah Ahmed [+]
ULC Institute of Education
In January 2015 the UK government announced a character education grant fund for schools, colleges and organizations, encouraging them to develop character education programmes and projects. For some Muslim educators, who consider the aim of religious education, and indeed education as a whole, to be the development of character (al-Attas, 1979; M. Halstead, 2004; Zaman & Memon, 2016, p. 25), one motivation for establishing Islamic faith schools has been the lack of character education in public schools. Can this new government initiative meet the aims of Muslim educators seeking character education for Muslim children, and if so how? What, if anything, do Muslim educational initiatives have to offer mainstream public schools in regard to character education? How do Islamic educational theories about character differ from those of mainstream UK educators and how do they compare to the government definition? This paper aims to open this debate which has as yet received little attention from UK Muslim educators, who are still preoccupied with the many regulatory changes in the wake of the Trojan horse affair. However, it could be argued that character education could be very much at the heart of the new requirement for schools to promote the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs, which have recently been placed within the longstanding requirement for schools to advance the Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural development of children.