Teachers have been asked by education secretary Damian Hinds to suggest the best ways for young people to build character and resilience.
He has set up an expert advisory group in character education on how best to support schools to run more such activities, based on five "foundations": sport, creativity, performing, volunteering and membership of structured groups like scouts and guides, and gaining experience of the world of work.
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Teachers and pupils are invited to say what they think would be the best non-academic activities to offer.
Mr Hinds said: “Of course, I want every child to excel at school and do well in their exams – but this is just one part of how education prepares them for the future.
“Through school and college, young people gain the skills and qualifications they need to get a well-paid job, but to truly prepare for adult life we also need to make sure our young people build character and resilience.”
He said young people in particular spent an increasing amount of time online and “we should all put our phones down, look up and get involved in activities that stretch and challenge us”. This would also help with improving social mobility, he added.
Research for the DfE among more than 2,500 pupils aged 11 to 16 found sports and fitness was the most popular kind of "character" activity, chosen by half of school pupils and 43 per cent of those at college.
This was followed by outdoor pursuits and creative activities.
The DfE said its call for evidence would help shape recommendations due later this year on character education.
Advisory group members are:
Ian Bauckham, CBE (chair) – chief executive of the Tenax School Trust
James Arthur, OBE – director of the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues
Jonathan Baggaley – chief executive at the PSHE Association
Geoff Barton – general secretary of the Association for School and College Leaders
Tom Bennett – founder of ResearchED and Department for Education’s independent behaviour adviser
Oli de Botton – headteacher at School 21
Dame Julia Cleverdon – co-founder and advisory board member of Step up to Serve and vice president of Business in the Community
Steve Cowgill – deputy headteacher at Archibald Primary School
Allana Gay – deputy headteacher at Lea Valley Primary School
Steve Gough – schools lead at Public Sector Finance
Geethika Jayatilaka – chief executive of Chance UK
Gary Lewis – chair of the Association of Character Education and executive headteacher of Kings Langley Secondary School;
Tony Little – chair of the Laurus Trust
Dame Martina Milburn, DCVO CBE – chair of the Social Mobility Commission and chief executive of the Prince’s Trust;
Ndidi Okezie – digital and customer voice strategy at Pearson
Cat Scutt – director of education and research at the Chartered College of Teaching
Paul Whiteman – general secretary of the National Association of Headteachers
Daniel Wright – headteacher at the London Oratory School