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Spiritual, moral, social and cultural development

SMSC stands for spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils.

The Citizenship Foundation defines spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils in relation to pupils’ ability and willingness to do the following:

  • Spiritual: Explore beliefs and experience; respect values; discover oneself and the surrounding world; use imagination and creativity; reflect.
  • Moral: Recognise right and wrong; understand consequences; investigate moral and ethical issues; offer reasoned views.
  • Social: Use social skills in different contexts; work well with others; resolve conflicts; understand how communities work.
  • Cultural: Appreciate cultural influences; participate in culture opportunities; understand, accept, respect and celebrate diversity.

For a really good understanding of SMSC, look at this presentation (although we aren’t endorsing any product from this commercial company).

How do we promote the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of our pupils?

At Ashleigh Primary, teachers promote SMSC in lots of different ways. Obvious ways are in Religious Education and assemblies, but SMSC can be developed in all subjects and lots of aspects of school life. These could include:

  • English, where children will read a range of different fiction books set in different countries and cultures
  • Maths, where children might look at Islamic art when learning about shape and symmetry
  • Science, where values and morals are considered, such as when teaching about evolution in Year 6 (see the National Curriculum)
  • Sex and Relationships Education, where we make sure we talk about different attitudes and beliefs held by different faith groups and individuals
  • Jigsaw sessions, where we promote the social and emotional aspects of learning
  • Look out for regular homework activities which ask pupils to respond and reflect on a religious festival or an element of culture, such as a painting or novel (respecting all beliefs, including those who choose to have no faith – we always give pupils the choice here)

SMSC development is also embedded into our ethos (see our Vision and Values) and can be sensed in our day-to-day practices and many of our policies and practices (such as the Anti-bullying policy). A key part of the social development of pupils is their acceptance and engagement with British values.

Statutory context of SMSC for schools

We value SMSC as a way to enrich our children’s experiences and their outcomes. When we were last inspected, Ofsted judged the extent of our pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development to be at least good.

Slightly confusingly, the National Curriculum sets out that three of these aspects, alongside mental and physical development, should be promoted in schools:

Every state-funded school must offer a curriculum which is balanced and broadly based and which promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society.

National Curriculum, Department for Education, September 2013)

Social development is missing from the list, but we regard working with others and the social aspects of learning as really important for our pupils.