Dr Tom Harrison

Dr Tom Harrison

School of Education
Director of Education - Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues

Contact details

The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues
The School of Education
12th Floor (West) Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston, Birmingham
B15 2TT, United Kingdom

Tom Harrison is the Director of Education in the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues and leads on all the applied research projects – working with schools, colleges, employers, voluntary sector organisations and policy makers across Britain as well as internationally.  His specialist interests are character and virtue ethics, youth social action, citizenship, community development and volunteering. He has published extensively in these areas as well as developing resources and training programmes for schools and other organisations. Recent publications include ‘Teaching Character Through the Curriculum’, ‘Educating Character Through Stories’, ‘Schools of Character’ and ‘Teaching Character in Primary Schools. 

He has completed his PhD at the University of Birmingham on the influence of the Internet on character virtues. He has written articles for the Times Educational Supplement (TES) and other publications and has appeared on several local and national radio programmes. 

Tom is currently the Programme Director of the MA in Character Education and also the Secretary of the Association of Character Education (ACE).


  • PhD, School of Education, University of Birmingham
  • PGCert in Academic Practice (Distinction)
  • Fellow, HEA
  • BA, Sociology, University of York


Tom Harrison has spent most of his careers working in the not for profit sector on educational programmes. Most recently Tom has managed projects that have both a national and international reach, on behalf of the School of Education and the University of Birmingham. One project, My Character, involves the development of a new social networking website and hard copy journal that is designed to develop the character, values and future mindedness of 11-14 year olds. The other is the development of a teaching pack for primary schools, entitled Knightly Virtues, that encourages young people to read great narratives and then draw lessons about their own character and values from them. Both the projects are subject to various research strategies to access impact, including randomised controlled trials.

Tom has been the Director of Teaching and Learning for Learning for Life since 2007. Learning for Like is a organisation that aims to research and develop the character and values of young people in the UK. Tom directed a series of projects in schools and community organisations across Britain. He also assisted on four major research projects and was an author on several of the resulting publications.

In 2008, Tom established a educational consultancy company called No Limits Learning. Through the company Tom developed a number of training programmes for teachers and students. Themes included active citizenship, student leadership, community involvement and global citizenship. Tom also provided consultancy to a number of organisations, including ACT, citizED, the UFA, the ASC as well as government departments including the Department of Education and Department of Home and Communities. He has also given papers on the themes of active citizenship and character at conferences in America, Japan, Hong Kong, Australia and Canada.

In the last few years Tom has developed a series of educational resources that are widely used in schools. These include the Play your Part pack that encourages young people to be active citizens in their local community. He was also a co-author of the Engaging Practice publication that provided guidance on setting up active citizenship projects for young people from socially disadvantaged communities. The publication was a result of a two year project run by staff from the University of Cambridge and Leicester and the charity CSV. Tom was also lead author of the ASPIRE community development toolkit for schools written by CSV on behalf of the DCSF (currently D of E).

In 2003, Tom set up the educational charity VESL (see www.vel.org). VESL sends volunteers overseas and provides grants for educational projects in Asia. For the last ten years Tom has had overall responsibility for all departments of the charity, including finance, overseas programmes and all the other charitable activities. The charity currently send volunteers (mainly teachers) to work alongside the ministries of education in Sri Lanka, India and Thailand.

For three years between 2004 and 2007, Tom worked for CSV, the UKs largest volunteering and training organisation. At CSV he project managed various volunteering and citizenship education programmes across the country. This included running the national student leadership project with the National College for School Leadership (NCSL). In addition to the above experiences Tom worked for the international volunteering organisation Project Trust for three years, as well as volunteering overseas with the organisation for a year in Jordan. He has also volunteered on numerous other programmes in the UK and aboard since he left school.


Programme Director - MA Character Education 

Doctoral research

PhD title The Influence of the Internet on the character virtues of 11-14 year olds in England. 


Current Research

Principle Investigator – Teaching Character, University of Birmingham. (Funded by the department of Education) http://www.jubileecentre.ac.uk/userfiles/jubileecentre/1604/projects/current-projects/teaching-character-project

Co-Principle Investigator -  Character, Service and Gratitude  http://www.jubileecentre.ac.uk/userfiles/jubileecentre/pdf/projects/Summaries/Character_Service_and_Gratitude_%20Project_Summary.pdf 

Co-Principle Investigator - Schools  of Virtue

Co-Principle Investigator - Interventions with Teachers, Doctors and Lawyers http://www.jubileecentre.ac.uk/userfiles/jubileecentre/pdf/projects/Summaries/Interventions_with_Trainee_and_Student_Teachers_Lawyers_and_Doctors_Project-Summary.pdf

Previous Research

2015 – Principle Investigator – Virtues in the Professions Interventions Project - University of Birmingham

2015 - Principle Investigator – Building Character Through Youth Social Action - University of Birmingham http://www.jubileecentre.ac.uk/1574/projects/previous-work/character-and-service

2012 - Co-Principal investigator, Honourable Virtues, University of Birmingham

2011 - Co-Principal Investigator, My Character Project, University of Birmingham http://www.jubileecentre.ac.uk/1571/projects/previous-work/character-education-in-uk-schools

2009- 2011 Programme Director, Engaged Project, University of Cambridge

2009 - Co-Principal Investigator,Global Citizens, VESL 

Other activities

Secretary – Association of Character Education (ACE) 


Harrison, T. (2016) Cultivating Cyber-phronesis. Journal of Pastoral Care in Education. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02643944.2016.1202307

Davison, I, Harrison, T, Hayes, D & Higgins, J. (2016) How to assess children’s virtue literacy: methodological lessons learnt from the Knightly Virtues programme Journal of Beliefs and Values. DOI: 10.1080/13617672.2016.1141526

Harrison, T., Morris, I, Ryan, J. (2016) Teaching Character in Primary Schools. London, Sage. 

Harrison, T. (2016) Virtuous reality: moral theory and research into cyber-bullying. Ethics and Information Technology, 17(4), 275-283

Carr, D, Harrison, T. (2015) Educating Character Through Stories. Exeter: Imprint Academic. 

Arthur, J. Harrison, T., Davison, I. (2015) Levels of Virtue Literacy in Catholic Church of England and Non-Faith Schools in EnglandInternational Studies in Catholic Education  DOI: 10.1080/19422539.2015.1072957

Arthur, J., Harrison, T., Taylor, E. (2015) Building Character through youth social action. Birmingham, University of Birmingham

Harrison, T and Carr, D. (2015) Teaching Character Through Stories. Exeter, Imprint Academic.

Harrison, T. (2014) The Influence of the Internet on the Character Virtues of 11-14 Year olds in England. Birmingham, University of Birmingham

Arthur, J. Harrison, T. et al (2014) Knightly Virtues – enhancing virtue literacy through stories. Birmingham, University of Birmingham

Arthur, J., Harriston, T. et al (2014) My Character a Feasibility Study, Birmingham, University of Birmingham.

Arthur, J. And Harrison, T. (2012) Exploring Good Character and Citizenship in England, Asia Pacific Journal of Education. DOI: 10.1080/02188791.2012.741097

Harrison, T (2012) Assessment of Citizenship Education: Challenges and Opportunities in Arthur, J. and Cremin, H. (eds) Debates in Citizenship Education, London: Routledge.

Mason, C., Cremin, H., Harrison, T. & Warwick, P. (2011) Learning to (Dis)Engage?: The socialising experiences of young people living in areas of socio-economic disadvantage, British Journal of Educational Studies.  DOI:10.1080/00071005.2011.615734

Warwick, P., Mason, C., Harrison, T, & Cremin, H. (2011) Citizens in a big society? The complex ecology of young people’s civic engagement. Journal of Social Science Education.

Cremin, H., Harrison, T., Warwick, P., Mason, C. (2011) Engaging Practice; Engaging Young Citizens for Disadvantaged communities, London: CSV.

Harrison, T. (2010) A Curriculum full of Character; Developing Character Education in the classroom, culture and community of a school in Arthur, J (eds) Citizens of Character, Exeter: Imprint Academic.

Harrison, T. (2010) Volunteering and Character, University of Birmingham.

Cremin, H., Harrison, T., Warwick, P. Mason, C (2009), Building Voice, Civic Action and Learning; What can we learn from young people living in socio-economically disadvantaged communities?, University of Leicester and University of Cambridge.

Harrison, T., and Hayes, A. (2009) Global Citizens; Effects on attitudes and practice of teachers undertaking voluntary projects overseas, VESL: Manchester.

Harrison, T. (2009) Working Together; schools and the voluntary sector, Canterbury: citizED.

Harrison, T. (2009) Citizenship Education and the Learning Outside the classroom manifesto, Canterbury: citizED.

Harrison, T. (2008) Citizenship Education and Community Involvement, Canterbury: citizED.


Character, virtue ethics, youth social action, citizenship, character and the internet

Media experience

Tom has been interviewed numerous times about character education for local and national radio programmes. He has written articles for the TES, Conversation, Huffington Post and been quoted in many national and local newspapers.  Tom was also a guest on the BBBC Radio 4 Bringing up Britain programme about character.  Listen to the episode on Character.

Policy experience

To has worked closely with the Department for Education on Character Education.  This includes attending Ministerial round-tables, advising on DfE events and activities, presenting to DfE staff and being an advisor on a national character education survey.  He has also received funding from the DfE to conduct a programme of research looking at how character can be taught through and within subjects.  Tom was the academic advisor for the recently launched Prince William award and has also worked with the Cabinet Office and the voluntary sector organisations they work with.