Education in the 21st century involves far more than simple academic tuition. However, while most parents and educators would agree that values and ethics are at the heart of a child’s development, these have been conspicuously lacking from many curricula. It’s this gap that pioneering Sussex-based charity the Human Values Foundation aims to fill. “We provide teaching resources and expertise to help educators achieve a 21st-century education for their pupils,” says CEO Rosemary Dewan.

More than 2,000 schools in the UK and internationally have benefited from the foundation’s focus on “values education”, helping raise morale and boosting self-confidence in an enjoyable and practical way. This integrated ethical, moral, emotional, social and spiritual education also impacts on society as a whole. “We need to develop children’s mindsets and skillsets early in life so they establish sound reference points for their day-to-day living,” says Dewan. “It can have an enormous impact on everything from crime and racism to drug abuse.”


Teaching values

Over the past two decades, the charity has seen values education become far more mainstream. In the UK, school inspectors now recognise the importance of assessing pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. However, the foundation has found that few educators have had either initial teacher training or professional development in this area.

To address this, the charity creates different programmes for schools, focusing on ages four to 14 and providing lesson plans for three or more years’ work. “Our learning methods are increasingly incorporated into schools’ own schemes of work,” says Dewan, “as they cater for different kinds of children, age stages and social backgrounds, so they choose what will work best.” Designed to be fully resourced and easy to use, even for newly qualified teachers, the materials include stories and songs, while exploring different values from the perspectives of the past, present and future, such as the driving forces behind the slave trade. The foundation is now focusing on developing an e-platform to make resources more accessible to the current digital generation, as well as enabling more schools in the UK and abroad to access its materials.

Already used in 27 countries – including Estonia, Turkey and Spain in conjunction with English-language lessons – values education is increasingly recognised as a vital element of a school curriculum. And the pioneering Human Values Foundation continues to drive this growing movement. “Our intention is to remain at the forefront of educational development,” says Dewan, “as a beacon of light.”