Recent attacks on character education in a UK context: a case of mistaken identities?

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Colleges, School and Institutes


This article offers a response to some recent critiques of character education in a UK context, in general, and the approach promoted by the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, in particular. The article argues that critiques of current UK character education betray an inadequate grasp of significant factions within its group of advocates, and that there is reason to question the suggested idea of a single policy network. More specifically, claims that the Jubilee Centre’s conception of character is neoliberal, conservative, individualist and religiously tethered are rebutted. At a more abstract level, the critics are shown to misrepresent the underlying philosophy of the Centre’s character conception: neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics.

Bibliographic note

Funding Information: The Centre, which is part of the School of Education, University of Birmingham, UK, was established in 2012 and employs over 20 people. It is funded mainly by two US charities, the John Templeton Foundation and the Kern Family Foundation. These two foundations fund the majority of research projects in the field of character, virtue and virtue education, both in the USA and worldwide. All research carried out in the Centre is subject to ethical approval by the University of Birmingham. Publisher Copyright: © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Beliefs and Values
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


  • Character education, Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, neo-Aristotelianism, neoliberalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas