Helping schools with SMSC

Every school in England must promote SMSC, which is now particularly important to Ofsted.
DoingSMSC helps you understand what it is and how you can meet some of the required outcomes.

What is SMSC?

SMSC stands for spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. All schools in England must show how well their pupils develop in SMSC.

Spiritual

Explore beliefs and experience; respect faiths, feelings and values; enjoy learning about oneself, others and the surrounding world; use imagination and creativity; reflect.

Ofsted definition of 'spiritual'

Pupils’ spiritual development is shown by their:

  • ability to be reflective about their own beliefs, religious or otherwise, that inform their perspective on life and their interest in and respect for different people’s faiths, feelings and values
  • sense of enjoyment and fascination in learning about themselves, others and the world around them
  • use of imagination and creativity in their learning
  • willingness to reflect on their experiences.

Moral

Explore beliefs and experience; respect faiths, feelings and values; enjoy learning about oneself, others and the surrounding world; use imagination and creativity; reflect.

Ofsted definition of 'moral'

Pupils’ moral development is shown by their:

  • ability to recognise the difference between right and wrong, readily apply this understanding in their own lives and, in so doing, respect the civil and criminal law of England
  • understanding of the consequences of their behaviour and actions
  • interest in investigating and offering reasoned views about moral and ethical issues, and being able to understand and appreciate the viewpoints of others on these issues.

Social

Explore beliefs and experience; respect faiths, feelings and values; enjoy learning about oneself, others and the surrounding world; use imagination and creativity; reflect.

Ofsted definition of 'social'

Pupils’ social development is shown by their:

  • use of a range of social skills in different contexts, including working and socialising with pupils from different religious, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds
  • willingness to participate in a variety of communities and social settings, including by volunteering, cooperating well with others and being able to resolve conflicts effectively
  • acceptance and engagement with the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs; the pupils develop and demonstrate skills and attitudes that will allow them to participate fully in and contribute positively to life in modern Britain.

Cultural

Explore beliefs and experience; respect faiths, feelings and values; enjoy learning about oneself, others and the surrounding world; use imagination and creativity; reflect.

Ofsted definition of 'cultural'

Pupils’ cultural development is shown by their:

  • understanding and appreciation of the wide range of cultural influences that have shaped their own heritage and that of others
  • understanding and appreciation of the range of different cultures within school and further afield as an essential element of their preparation for life in modern Britain
  • knowledge of Britain's democratic parliamentary system and its central role in shaping our history and values, and in continuing to develop Britain
  • willingness to participate in and respond positively to artistic, sporting and cultural opportunities
  • interest in exploring, improving understanding of and showing respect for different faiths and cultural diversity, and the extent to which they understand, accept, respect and celebrate diversity, as shown by their tolerance and attitudes towards different religious, ethnic and socio-economic groups in the local, national and global communities.

How will Ofsted grade it?

Spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is now referenced throughout Ofsted's School Inspection Handbook. It is almost as important to a school's inspection as the curriculum.

An 'outstanding' school will have a 'thoughtful and wide-ranging promotion of pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development'

An 'inadequate' school will have 'serious weaknesses in the overall promotion of pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development'.

SMSC provision by school grade

Outstanding

The school’s thoughtful and wide-ranging promotion of pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and their physical well-being enables them to thrive in a supportive, highly cohesive learning community.

Good

Deliberate and effective action is taken to create a cohesive learning community through the promotion of pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, and their physical well-being. There is a positive climate for learning.

Requires improvement

The school requires improvement because one or more of the four key judgements requires improvement (grade 3) and/or there are weaknesses in the overall provision for pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.

Inadequate

There are serious weaknesses in the overall promotion of pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development or their physical well-being, so that pupils are intolerant of others and/or reject any of the core values fundamental to life in modern Britain.

Ofsted School Inspection Handbook (September 2014)

Where does the school curriculum fit in?

If you have embedded both PSHE and citizenship into your school, then yes: you are well on the way to promoting good SMSC.

How can citizenship teaching help?

Many elements of citizenship education support SMSC, such as appreciating diversity, understanding different viewpoints and collaborating for change.

Schools have had to teach citizenship since 2002, so plenty of resources are available for it.

Many Citizenship Foundation resources map well to SMSC outcomes. You can find these on our resources page.

British values

As of November 2014, schools must now promote British values. The advice from the DfE is to do this through SMSC, although Ofsted will assess it through the curriculum too.

Read more about British values and SMSC

How do you evaluate it?

We are aware of two tools for evaluating SMSC, neither is free: didbook and SMSC Grid. So far we know nothing about them, so use at your own risk!

If you have used either of these (or any other SMSC evaluation tools), please do share your opinion in the comments below.

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