Helping schools with
Every school in England must promote
SMSC, which is now particularly important to Ofsted.
These pages help you understand what it is and how you can meet some of the required outcomes.
Updated: 15 December 2014
(As of September 2014)
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Ofsted School Inspection Handbook (September 2014)
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.
Explore beliefs and experience; respect faiths, feelings and values; enjoy learning about oneself, others and the surrounding world; use imagination and creativity; reflect.
Recognise right and wrong; respect the law; understand consequences; investigate moral and ethical issues; offer reasoned views.
Investigate and moral issues; appreciate diverse viewpoints; participate, volunteer and cooperate; resolve conflict; engage with the fundamental values of British democracy.
Appreciate cultural influences; appreciate the role of Britain's parliamentary system; participate in culture opportunities; understand, accept, respect and celebrate diversity.
SMSC provision by school grade
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.
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.
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.
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)
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'.
Where do curriculum subjects 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 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
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 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
Department for Education
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