Nicky Morgan has announced that £3.5million worth of funding will be made available to schools to give pupils lessons in the importance of perserverance and confidence.
Under proposals, grants will be awarded to activities such as adrama and other programmes based around pupils meeting personal goals outside the classroom, such as mastering an instrument or language, it was suggested.
The latest announcement comes amid growing calls from all political parties as well as education experts for youngsters to be taught skills and abilities outside their academic work that will help them in the future.
Earlier this month, shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt said that building children’s character could be more important than pure academic achievement.
In a speech, he said evidence indicates that skills such as resilience, curiosity, discipline and self-control are crucial to helping youngster succeed in life.
Just days before, Mrs Morgan had announced a raft of measures, including projects run by former armed forces personnel, and new Character Awards for schools, which she said will help schools recognise individuals, rather than focusing on exam marks.
In a statement, the Department for Education (DfE) said that the abilities and traits that help young people persevere with setbacks, confidently engage in debates and contribute to the community have been recognised by the Education Secretary as “’equally important’ to young people as securing good grades”.
“The announcement of a £3.5 million grant scheme for character education projects is a milestone in preparing young people more than ever before for life in modern Britain,” Mrs Morgan said.
“It will provide a boost to those already doing great work, while also helping excellent projects get off the ground.
“Excellent teachers already produce well-rounded pupils and the news will give more schools the support, inspiration and resources to go even further.
“The move is a landmark step for our education system. It will cement our position as a global leader in teaching character and resilience and will send a clear signal that our young people are being better prepared than ever before to lead tomorrow’s Britain.”
Projects will be able to apply for money through the new fund from early next year, the DfE said, with all types of character education considered. Schemes must show that they result in better grades, improved behaviour or better job prospects. A further £1 million will be used for more research into the most effective ways of teaching character.