Cultural Capital and Character Education

Developing Cultural Capital at Clitheroe Royal Grammar School

The 20th century French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu defined cultural capital as, “familiarity with the legitimate culture within a society.”

In the 2019 School Inspection Handbook, Ofsted defines it as, “the essential knowledge that students need to be educated citizens, introducing them to the best that has been thought and said and helping them to engender an appreciation of human creativity and achievement.”

At Clitheroe Royal Grammar School we view cultural capital as a vital element of the holistic education and development we offer to every young person in our school. We strongly believe that in order to equip and prepare our students for their role as influential global citizens we must offer them the very broadest range of opportunities, experiences and knowledge during their time in our school.

Clitheroe Royal Grammar School is a very diverse educational community. Our students, staff, parents/carers and Governors come from a wealth of different backgrounds, languages, cultures, faiths and traditions. As a result, in our development of cultural capital we want to celebrate this diversity and for our students to develop as “cultural omnivores” (Peterson, 1992). They should be able to choose to mix interests in a wide range of forms of culture, both those seen as “historically legitimate” by society and those forms which are emerging and contemporary. In summary, to “stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before and create new and exciting forms of culture.”

We understand that families will pass on cultural capital to their children by introducing them to dance, music, theatre, galleries, historic sites, art and literature. An awareness and understanding of these enables young people to confidently “hold their own” in a range of settings; from a job interview to a conversation with a neighbour or building a professional network. It enables young people to be able to learn and name things which are, for many, outside their daily experience.

Research from the Sutton Trust has shown that enabling young people to have knowledge and understanding of these areas of culture facilitates greater academic success and opens doors to a wide range of careers and professions for the future. Projects such as The Class Ceiling have shown how recruitment into key professions, including banking and law, is made easier by the level of cultural capital of the applicants. We want our students to be equipped with the very best possible opportunities to excel in their chosen path and to have the confidence to converse, debate and discuss.

The following page gives just a taste of the experiences offered to our students to assist them in developing their cultural capital, knowledge and understanding. This is the “golden thread” which runs through our curricular and extra-curricular programme for all students.

In summary, we aim for our students to be confident in their cultural knowledge and understanding but also to be creators of innovative new forms of culture which will help them shape the future in a diverse, global Britain.

How do we develop our students’ Cultural Capital at Clitheroe Royal Grammar School?

Clitheroe Royal Grammar School Main School Sixth Form
Commemoration Day


Drama club: productions and theatre visits


Music tuition, ensembles, Festival and Concerts


Art: gallery visits and artists in residence


Broad & balanced curriculum offer with clear intent grounded in strong philosophy


Careers Education, Information & Guidance programme


Exchange programmes


Auschwitz Visit and Holocaust Memorial projects


Diverse and challenging Assembly programme


Mathematics Challenge


Duke of Edinburgh’s Award


Student Leadership programmes


School Council


Community projects


Charity Committees


Sporting opportunities


Engineering the Future project


Societies Challenge


Speaking & Listening projects and Debating Club


“Everyone Reading In Class”


Personal, Social & Health Education programme


Race for the Line project


Astronomy Masterclass


Readathon, Reading Spies,

Lancashire Book of the Year & Kids Lit Quiz


Enterprise Days


Curricular day visits and fieldwork opportunities


House System and opportunities


Ogden Trust projects: Physics


Visiting author workshops


Wellbeing Days and Wellbeing Challenge


Peripatetic music lessons


Theatre workshops


Med/Dent/Vet preparation programme


Lunchtime careers talks


Careers in subjects displays




Freshers Fair and wealth of student-led societies


Overseas visits e.g. Washington/Beijing/Operation Wallacea


General Election hustings


Speakers in Schools programme


Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary programme


Oxbridge Programme


Extended Project Qualification


Guidance Programme


Global work experience


Curricular day visits and fieldwork opportunities


Academic Vocabulary research project


Computational Thinking Challenge


Wellbeing Weeks


Preparation for University and Careers admissions tests


Bar Mock Trial


Critical Thinking


Ethics, Philosophy & Religion Conference


University Open Day visits

Character Education at Clitheroe Royal Grammar School 

‘Character’ is a complex concept with a number of overlapping facets. The DfE identifies four key aspects: 1. The ability to remain motivated by long-term goals. 2. The learning and habituation of positive morals or virtues. 3. The acquisition of social confidence. 4. The appreciation of long-term commitments (Reference 1). Research by The Institute of Education, University College London found that schools which develop character will help drive equity and social mobility for their students (Reference 2). According to a study by the Education Endowment Foundation and Cabinet Office, Character Education also leads to high self-efficacy, better academic performance and more persistence. In addition it leads to an increase in self-control, coping skills and wellbeing (Reference 3).

Outstanding attendance and behaviour, the promotion of resilience and a Growth Mindset and a strong commitment to learning (CTL) are the bedrock for successful achievement. We place a strong emphasis on students learning to positively manage their emotional health and wellbeing. There has been significant investment in Pastoral Care in recent years to support this.

A thorough induction / transition process ensures that students and staff quickly learn the values and expectations of citizenship and community that are at the heart of our school. There is a strong sense of pride amongst students, staff, parents/carers, governors and alumni.

Alongside providing outstanding academic outcomes we place a strong focus on the promotion of Social, Spiritual, Moral and Cultural understanding. Positive character traits such as courtesy, respect, honesty, courage and generosity are developed not only through the statutory delivery of Relationships, Sex and Health Education but also through well-planned and comprehensive PSHE, Critical Skills and Citizenship and Guidance programmes. By placing a strong focus on morality and ethics we believe that we can drive equity and social mobility for our students who come from a diverse range of localities and backgrounds.

All students take part in Wellbeing days which focus on the 5 ways to wellbeing. There is a culture of volunteering and Charity provision with student led committees on both sites.  There is an expectation for all students to volunteer in some form. Many students in Years 11 and 12 take part in the National Citizenship Service and students are offered the chance to take part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

We strongly believe in offering students as many opportunities outside of the classroom as possible. There is an extensive timetable of co-curricular opportunities. Students are empowered to run their own clubs and societies. Student Leadership teams, Peer Mentors, Prefects, Teaching and Learning ambassadors, Sports Captains, Literacy Leaders, Reading ambassadors and the Events Committee all contribute positively to supporting their peers.

There are a myriad opportunities for students to compete and pursue their passions beyond the school. Competitive sport plays a major role in the life of many students and they are given a vast range of opportunities both locally, regionally and nationally. Students have the opportunity to be competitive through Maths Challenges, the GRAB (performing Arts) competition as well as engineering challenges. There is a thriving House system at Main School which further fosters a sense of pride and unity. Students are taught the values of fair play and integrity when representing school and these values are a key component in the Physical Education scheme of work.

Every student is encouraged to take part in as many co-curricular opportunities as possible. We ensure that all students have access to participate and where applicable we help fund opportunities for students who are the least advantaged.

Examples of opportunities that develop Character Education at Clitheroe Royal Grammar School. (This list is not exhaustive as new opportunities arise often!)

Clitheroe Royal Grammar School

(Both sites)

Main School Sixth Form
Assemblies Wellbeing Days Critical Thinking
Diverse PSHE, Citizenship and Guidance Programmes School Walk Volunteering Opportunities with Younger Students at Main School
Awards Evening Christmas Card Competition Volunteering Opportunities at the Previous Schools of Our Sixth Form Students
Guest Speakers Night Safe / Homeless  Charity Volunteering Opportunities at Local Schools
Pride in Uniform House System Ribble Valley Foodbank Collection
Student Leadership Teams Praise Cards to Reward Positive Attitude / Commitment to Learning Letters of Thanks for Volunteering at School Events
School Council Headteacher Awards for Citizenship / Community Actions Positive Postcards
Commemoration Day Duke of Edinburgh Award EPQ
Christmas Concerts / Services No Penalty Points Rewards Events EPR Conference
Christmas Lunch Merit Point System Cultures Day
School Trips 100% Attendance Prize Draw Lessons from Auschwitz (Holocaust Education Trust)
Extra-curricular Clubs Sports Awards John Stuart Mill Cup
School Sports Fixtures / Competitions Christmas Fair Bar Mock Trial
Maths Challenges GRAB Event Poetry by Heart Competition
Music Ensembles Code of Conduct / Classroom Expectations Various Subject Olympiad Competitions
Drama Club and School Productions Sports Day (Inclusive and Elite) Code of Conduct / Learning Agreement / Classroom Expectations
Transition Days Race the Line A Level PE Students Volunteering at Sports Day
Open Evening Volunteers Rotary Club Student-led Clubs and Societies
National Citizenship Scheme CRGS’s Got Talent Clubs and Society Leaders
Charity Committees Christmas Card Appeal Library Prefects
  Wellbeing Wednesday Year 12 Student Mentors
  Peer Mentors Year 13 Peer Mentors
  Prefects / Sports Prefects  
  Teaching and Learning Ambassadors  


  1. DfE Character Education Framework
  2. University College London Research
  3. Education Endowment Foundation Study