Levels of virtue literacy in Catholic, Church of England and non-faith schools in England: a research report

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article reports on an innovative empirical research project, using a quasi-experimental trial, in which 9–11-year-olds learned about character and virtues through the exploration of four classic stories. The overall aim of the programme was to enhance virtue literacy. Virtue literacy is defined as the knowledge, understanding and application of virtue language and is viewed as being integral to the development of character. The research assessed the impact of the programme on pupils attending faith and non-faith schools across England. The research findings provide substantial empirical evidence for the effectiveness of using stories to develop moral character. Children attending Catholic schools had significantly higher scores in the trials pre-test indicating that they had a better developed initial grasp of virtue language and concepts, and therefore virtue literacy, compared to the pupils from non-faith and Church of England schools.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-200
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Studies in Catholic Education
Issue number2
Early online date7 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • virtue, literacy, moral education, primary schools, character