Tests of life or life of tests? similarities and differences in parents’ and teachers’ prioritisation of character, academic attainment, the virtues and moral theories

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Although the area of parental involvement in education is well researched, much less is known about how parents and teachers might work together to cultivate desirable character virtues in their children/pupils. This article considers three potential barriers to parents/teachers forming such partnerships: i) differing views on the importance of character compared to academic attainment; ii) their prioritisation of moral, performance, civic and intellectual virtues; and iii) their prioritisation of different moral theories in ethical decision making. The article describes the findings from a quantitative study conducted with 376 parents and 137 teachers. The study found that both parents and teachers prioritise character over academic attainment but perceive the opposite to be true of their counterpart. Further, both parents and teachers rank moral virtues, such as honesty, as the most important, followed by performance virtues, such as resilience. The findings are significant as they illuminate a possible gap between parents and teachers in England, which, if addressed, will ensure children and young people are more likely to develop character qualities that contribute to individual and societal flourishing. Given that several countries are (re)introducing character education into the curriculum, the results of the study also have international significance.


Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Beliefs and Values
Early online date12 May 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 May 2021


  • Parents, Teachers, Character, Attainment, Virtue Ethics, character, teachers, academic attainment

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