Nicky Morgan has called on Damian Hinds to "really significantly talk about" character education following his appointment to the DfE.
The former education secretary was speaking ahead of a conference about the topic taking place in Lichfield tomorrow.
Ms Morgan made the issue a priority when she was secretary of state, and has continued to highlight it since leaving office, including publishing a book, Taught not Caught, last September.
Last year, it emerged that Ms Morgan’s immediate successor Justine Greening had scrapped the £3.5 million “landmark” character education scheme that Ms Morgan had set up.
However, Ms Greening’s successor Damian Hinds spoke sympathetically about the importance of character and resilience in his first speech after joining the DfE, touching on many of the aspects of school life such as ethos, expectations, public speaking, sport and voluntary work that Ms Morgan wrote about in her book.
Talking to Tes, Ms Morgan expressed optimism when asked about the change of tone from the DfE since Ms Greening was sacked.
She told Tes: “The new secretary of state certainly talked about character education when he was chair of the social mobility all party parliamentary group, and he and I have discussed this.
“He has got lots of other things on his plate, so it’s going to be a question of where it fits into the rest of the things he wants to do, but broadly I think he is sympathetic and interested.”
Asked what she would like see him do, she said: “I think it would be great if Damian had a chance to really significantly talk about it, whether it’s a specific speech or a specific initiative or funding for perhaps a character project.”
The case studies included in Ms Morgan’s book mainly concentrate on secondary education.
She told Tes that primary schools put more emphasis on values and how children develop attitudes to learning, and that at secondary “perhaps it is assumed that young people have those skills and it’s all about the acquisition of knowledge”.
She added: “I think sometimes it is perhaps left to chance a bit in the secondary system, and I hope that people reflect and think we can be more explicit about these things.”
The former education secretary said she hoped that tomorrow’s conference would help people understand what character education is all about by hearing examples of how other people have applied it.
She added: “Hopefully that makes people feel ‘OK, this is achievable, I haven’t got to start completely from scratch, or I’m being asked to completely change the way I teach – actually, we are not far off doing this, and with a few tweaks we can really give character education a good push in our school’.”