Helping schools promote 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 requirements.

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 development'

Moral

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

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 development'

Pupils’ social development is shown by their:

  • use of a range of social skills in different contexts, for example working and socialising with other pupils, including those 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; they develop and demonstrate skills and attitudes that will allow them to participate fully in and contribute positively to life in modern Britain.
School Inspection Handbook from September 2015

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 development'

Pupils’ cultural development is shown by their:

  • understanding and appreciation of the wide range of cultural influences that have shaped their own heritage and those 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, musical, 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.
School Inspection Handbook from September 2015

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

Good (2)

Deliberate and effective action is taken to promote pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and their physical well-being.

The curriculum also contributes well to pupils’ behaviour and welfare, including their physical, mental and personal well-being, safety and spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.

Pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development ensures that they are prepared to be reflective about and responsible for their actions as good citizens.

Requires improvement (3)

There are weaknesses in the overall promotion of pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.

Inadequate (4)

The judgement on the overall effectiveness is likely to be inadequate where any one of the key judgements is inadequate and/or safeguarding is ineffective and/or there are serious weaknesses in the overall promotion of pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.

Ofsted's School Inspection Handbook from September 2015

How do you evaluate SMSC?

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.

Further implications

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.

To help, we offer a British values training package for primary schools.

Read more about British values and SMSC.

Prevent Duty

As of 1 July 2015, schools now have a legal duty to prevent pupils from becoming radicalised, which has implications for SMSC.

In secondary schools, the UK Department for Education recommends using the citizenship curriculum for this.

To help, we offer a British values training package for primary schools.

Read more about British values and SMSC.

Citizenship lessons 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.

Read more about citizenship and SMSC.

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