This project will illuminate how primary schools shape children’s personal value development, by employing a longitudinal design in Switzerland along with a comparative cross-sectional study in the UK. The project builds on our experience and successful joint projects in classroom research and human value development. The project will set the foundations for theory building on formation of values in the school context. This knowledge is essential for providing evidence-based guidance for values education in schools.
The formation of children’s values in primary school is at the core of school curricula and educational frameworks in Europe, and more specifically in Switzerland (Lehrplan 21) and the UK (Department of Education, 2014). Values express broad goals (kindness, curiosity) that are important to a person in life, and they are linked to behaviour. Primary schools are expected to develop children’s understanding of their own and others’ values, children’s ability to express their own values and pursue behaviours that help achieving them. In most recent years there has been a steep increase of publications, including the first special section on value development from childhood to early adulthood and research which highlights the impact of the family context and value-based educational goals on children’s value development. However, the field is still surprisingly under-researched, and there is a lack of evidence of how children’s values develop and how they are formed in primary school. The proposed four-year collaborative project (Switzerland and UK) will help fill this research gap. The findings from this project will be published in leading international journals with a focus on open science. The findings will be publicised worldwide through networks and values research centres, and disseminated widely to teachers, school principals, politicians, and the wider public.