10th Anniversary Year: Spotlight On

2022 is a year of reflection for the Jubilee Centre; reflection on a decade worth celebrating. As part of this reflective period, we have begun contemplating the impact that we have created and sustained since 2012, particularly on the difference to the understanding of character and virtues in schools and professional training. As part of this, we have sought to profile key individuals who have played a major role in our achievements.

We have launched this Spotlight On series to recognise partners and friends of the Jubilee Centre who have made significant and impactful contributions to our work since 2012.

Dame Julia Clevedon – Co-Founder of Step Up to Serve

This ‘Spotlight On’ feature focusses upon Dame Julia Cleverdon DCVO CBE, Co-Founder of Step Up to Serve and one of the country’s most prominent leaders in the charity sector.

Dame Julia served for 16 years as Chief Executive of Business in the Community, and then as Special Advisor to The Prince’s Charities from 2007 to 2013, the Vice Patron of Teach First from 2006 to 2014, and Chair of the National Literacy Trust. Following a government review she oversaw in 2012, Dame Julia co-founded Step Up to Serve in 2013, a charity seeking to increase the number of young people participating in social action. Dame Julia and the wider Step Up to Serve team began working closely with the Jubilee Centre from the organisation’s foundation as she and Centre Director Professor James Arthur were appointed to an advisory group of experts on character education, chaired by HRH The Prince of Wales, which resulted in the launch of the #iwill campaign in 2013. The #iwill campaign was a collaboration of over 1000 organisations and 700 ambassadors working to promote youth social action, cultivate a habit of service amongst young people and recognise those undertaking outstanding work.

The Jubilee Centre has continued to worked closely with Dame Julia, and the wider campaign, as a key collaborator, acting as the principal academic partner for the initiative throughout its existence. Research conducted in collaboration with the campaign contributed to the Centre’s Building Character Through Youth Social Action research report, exploring how youth social action providers aim to build young people’s character.

Dame Julia and Professor Arthur were also both judges for the National Character Awards, established by then Secretary of State for Education Rt Hon. Baroness Nicky Morgan in 2014 and continued in 2017. The Awards showcased the best of character education in schools and celebrated the practitioners and school leaders who provide opportunities for character education to young people.

In recognition of her contribution to character education and social action, Dame Julia was made an Honorary Senior Research Fellow of the Jubilee Centre in 2018 and has continued to collaborate with the centre on a regular basis since. Dame Julia provided the foreword for the Centre’s A Habit of Service research report and hosted the launch event for the publication. On 15th October 2020, Julia made an appearance on the Centre’s ‘Conversations on Character’ podcast. During the episode, Dame Julia offered insights into her life working in the charity sector and expounded upon the double benefit of youth social action. In 2021, Dame Julia also co-authored Educating for a Characterful Society: Responsibility and the Public Good alongside Professor James Arthur, Rt Hon. Baroness Nicky Morgan, Lord James O’Shaughnessy and Sir Anthony Seldon. The book aims to define and discuss the critical role character plays in research, education, government policy and societal engagement.

Dame Julia also offered contributions at the Jubilee Centre’s celebratory event at the House of Lords in May 2022, honouring the 10th anniversary of the Centre. Along with a number of Jubilee Centre staff and partners, Dame Julia spoke about her collaborative role with the Centre and its impact during its 10 years of existence.

Gary Lewis – Chair of the Association for Character Education (ACE) and Honorary Senior Research Fellow

Jubilee Centre Honorary Senior Research Fellow Gary Lewis has been Chair of the Association for Character Education (ACE) since its inception in 2015.  

One of the most prominent national figures in UK education, Gary has led several schools during his 40-year career, including most notably Kings Langley School in Hertfordshire, which he led for 18 years, before moving full time to lead ACE in 2020. His leadership has commanded national recognition, with Gary serving as a policy advisor to the UK Department for Education (DfE) on developing Character Education.

As Chair of ACE Gary currently provides bespoke training and character support for schools across Britain and internationally. As well as with his assessments for the School of Character Kitemark, Gary is able to draw upon the best practice in character provision in schools of all types.

Having worked closely with the Jubilee Centre in the ten years since its launch, Gary gave a Key Note lecture titled ‘Schools of Character: Cultivating Virtue in Practice’ with Michael Roden (then Principal of University of Birmingham School) in January 2016 at the Jubilee Centre’s fourth annual conference ‘Cultivating Virtues: Interdisciplinary Approaches’. Gary hosted the inaugural ACE annual conference later that year, and supported the national DfE 2016 Character Awards,.

In 2017, Gary Lewis presented at ‘Character, Wisdom and Virtue’, the fifth annual Jubilee Centre conference, on ‘Character Development with Parents’ and would also serve as the Key Note speaker at the launch of the Schools of Virtue research report.

As national understanding and appreciation for the importance of character has developed, Gary spoke as part of an expert panel at ‘Implementing the New Ofsted Framework: Character Education Policy and Practice’ in May 2019.

More recently, Gary appeared as one of the first guests on series one of the Jubilee Centre’s podcast, Conversations on Character in October 2020. Here, he shared his insights in to the challenges and opportunities for education and educators in the face of a national crisis and through the recovery, the need for compassion and the value mistakes can provide in furthering a person’s understanding of their sense of self, as well as the importance of wisdom in public life. In May 2022, Gary joined with 200+ guests at the House of Lords to celebrate the Jubilee Centre’s first decade, in June he led a session on Linking Research Centres and Schools at the Supporting the Establishment of Character Education Research Centres in Europe conference and will soon offer a Key Note addresses at ‘Flourishing Schools: Introducing The Character Teaching Inventory’.  This event will welcome over 100 teachers from across the country and showcase Teaching Character Education: What Works and launch The Character Teaching Inventory. 

Baroness Nicky Morgan – Former Secretary of State for Education and DCMS

In this ‘Spotlight On’ feature, we recognise a former Secretary of State and Midlands Member of Parliament, Rt Hon. Baroness Nicky Morgan of Cotes. 

Her tenure in both cabinet positions was marked by a number of public endorsements of both the importance of character education and the ongoing applied work of the Jubilee Centre. This would include having the Department for Education adopt the Jubilee Centre’s definition of character, in speeches in the parliamentary chamber and at political conferences, whilst also advocating for character during international ministerial visits including in Japan and when engaging with education stakeholders across the country.

Shortly after taking the post of Education Secretary, Nicky delivered the 2014 Priestley Lecture at the University of Birmingham in which she emphasised the importance of character in education. Nicky championed the creation of the national Character Awards and implemented a programme of Character Grants, supporting projects across the country (and included the Jubilee Centre’s Teaching Character Through Subjects). This was in addition to advocating for character education to be formally recognised within Ofsted assessment framework and guidance, something that was adopted in 2019. Nicky officially opened the University of Birmingham School in 2015 and gave a keynote address at the Association for Character Education Annual Conference in 2017.

In 2017, Nicky authored Taught not Caught: Educating for Character in the 21st Centurywhich advocates for the necessity of an explicit focus on character education in schools. The book was described by Policy Exchange as a ’refreshingly clear and honest contribution, drawing on her ministerial experience but still strongly alive to the value of input from those at the chalk face, and that humility and openness is no small achievement.’

Nicky published her second book in 2020, with co-authors Professor James Arthur, Dame Julia Cleverdon, Lord James O’Shaughnessy, and Sir Anthony Seldon. Educating for a Characterful Society: Responsibility and the Public Good was followed by an appearance on the Jubilee Centre podcast Conversations on Character in November 2020. On 20th May 2022, Nicky will host the Centre’s tenth anniversary celebrations at the House of Lords.

Ben Perks – Head of Campaigns & Advocacy, UNICEF and Honorary Senior Research Fellow

Continuing the Centre’s ‘Spotlight On’ feature, this month we showcase Benjamin Perks, diplomat, Head of Campaigns & Advocacy for UNICEF and Honorary Senior Fellow at the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues.

Across the region, Ben supported the Jubilee Centre as it developed understanding, delivery and dissemination of character education presenting to hundreds of politicians, ambassadors, civil servants, academics, teachers and students. This engagement has led to locally-led research that has cited the Centre, and which has gained royal attention including from HRH The Duchess of Cornwall and The Earl of Wessex , Prime Ministerial Endorsement and underpinned meaningful national policy and practice change.

Now the Global Head of Campaigns and Advocacy in the Division of Communications at the United Nations Children’s Fund, based in New York, Ben leads on public and policy advocacy on issues related to the survival, development and protection of children. Throughout his career he has advocated for reforms to fulfil international human rights commitments and realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals as well as serving Georgia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, India and Albania.

In a personal capacity, and in recognition of his work introducing and measuring the impact of character education in both mainstream education and specialized child protection services for those affected by adverse childhood experiences in Low Middle Income Countries (LMIC), Ben was made an Honorary Senior Fellow at the Jubilee Centre in 2016. In this role, he advises the Centre on education policy related to development of character and social and emotional skills, has drawn connections with children who have suffered adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and how character should underpin the rebuilding of educational foundations post-pandemic.

Ben has engaged with the University of Birmingham on many occasions in the eight years our first contact, including delivering a lecture to the Centre for Human Brain Health in December 2016  and leading a three-day knowledge sharing event for a delegation of North Macedonian ministers in June 2019. Ben arranged for the Ministers of Education and Science and of Labor and Social Policy, as well as staff from UNICEF North Macedonia to visit campus, meeting with the Vice-Chancellor, engaging with researchers in the Jubilee Centre and visiting the University of Birmingham School. Ben had arranged a similar visit of Montenegrin civil servants and teachers to Birmingham in 2016.

In 2022, Ben spoke as part of the Jubilee Centre Webinar Series on ‘Building Character and Resilience into Global Education’s Post-Pandemic Recovery’ and will also join a panel of leading figures in the fields of Character and Virtue Ethics to consider the Jubilee Centre’s first decade, at the tenth anniversary conference in September 2022.

Ben has been a true friend of the Jubilee Centre. Reflecting on his work and relationship with the Centre in 2021, Ben shared that

“I was so inspired by the vision and energy of the Centre that I decided to see if they would be willing to join a major policy conference we were organizing with the Prime Minister of Montenegro on education sector reform in the country. The conference led to a commitment to a number of national reforms including expansion of pre-school education, improvement I quality assurance systems and the introduction of character education based on the model of the Centre. We rolled out character education in an initial group of schools. Parents, teachers and children determined the character traits that they would like to see in their school based on the Jubilee Centre and always in line with UN human rights norms. The reception from local schools was incredible and very much welcomed and was eventually snapped up. The dedication and support of the Jubilee Centre in accompanying these reforms is fondly appreciated by educationalists in that region.”

Dr. Sabena Y Jamell – GP, Associate Clinical Professor, and PhD graduate

Our first Spotlight On feature is Dr. Sabena Y Jameel, a General Practitioner (GP), Associate Clinical Professor, and recent PhD graduate, who has established herself as one of the foremost emergent thinkers on Practical Wisdom (Phronesis) in Medicine.

After completing her initial medical training in Nottingham, Dr. Jameel began her career working in General Practice across Birmingham and Derby. As well as remaining an active clinician, working within some of the most deprived communities in the Midlands, she was the former Health Education England Associate Dean for GP training in Birmingham and Solihull (2013-2019).

During this time Sabena featured in an online CPD course in Medical Professionalism delivered to over 1,500 students across 10 higher education institutions and presented on Enacted Phronesis at the 2015 WONCA Europe (Global Family Doctor) Conference in Turkey and the 2018 UNESCO World Bioethics Conference in Israel. In November 2019, Sabena joined Jubilee Centre Director Professor James Arthur in Phoenix, Arizona to speak at the Kern Family Foundation National Network and annual meeting of the Association of American Medical Colleges Council of Deans. Sabena was also a guest on the Jubilee Centre Podcast Conversations on Character, offering an update on how she is helping to transform medical training.

Sabena plays a leading role in the development of the next generation of young medical minds at Birmingham University Medical School where she is an Associate Clinical Professor in Medical Professionalism, Academic Quality Assurance Lead and the Senior Clinical Tutor for the Medical School Personal Academic Tutors. In 2022, Sabena, along with Professors Andrew Peterson and James Arthur, published Ethics and the Good Doctor: Character in the Professional Domain with Routledge Focus and has also recently taken an academic member position on the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Committee on Medical Ethics.

Sabena gave a keynote talk at the Annual Scientific Conference for ASME (Association for the Study of Medical Education) in July 2022 and gave one of the four keynote lectures at ‘Character and Virtues in Professional Practice’, the Jubilee Centre’s 11th annual conference held at Oriel College, Oxford in January 2023.