Character Education in New Zealand Schools [2004]

Executive Summary

This report analyses the perceptions of school principals associated with the introduction of character education in their school. It has been found that schools that have had character education in their curriculum for some time identify this form of change as an improvement towards overall student behaviour as well as staff stability. Group A Character Education Schools were those that are known to have implemented effective approaches to character education and Group B Emerging Character Education Schools are those that have purchased resources, but not yet fully implemented Character Education programmes. Differences between the two groups of schools, (Group A: Character Education Schools and Group B: Emerging Character Education Schools), can be attributed to the fact that schools in Group A will have more of an understanding of the core values being taught through increased experience, due to the fact that these schools have had character education in their curriculum for at least two years. It should be noted that this research focuses only on schools with character education programmes and with no attempt to contrast to schools who have yet to introduce such programmes into their organisations.


Throughout the world, it is a well-known concept that in order to create and maintain a civil society, there has to be education for character as well as for intellect; thus education has two primary objectives:

It’s hard to teach children who are hanging off the lights and have no respect for teachers or concern for anyone else. Before we begin to educate kids, we have first to instil some basic values and bottom line behaviour

(Comment by an Auckland principal - Heenan, 2002)

Over the past few decades, New Zealand may not have been teaching and replenishing the attitudes of character that are necessary for the continuation of a civil society and liberal democracy; hence The New Zealand Foundation for Character Education Inc. through the publication of Building Character through Cornerstone Values, seeks to contribute to redressing this situation.

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