SMSC and British Values
At Sonning Church of England Primary School we take very seriously our responsibility to prepare children for life in modern Britain. We ensure that the fundamental British Values are introduced, discussed and lived out through the Christian ethos and work of the school. Our curriculum provides a vehicle for furthering understanding of these concepts and, in particular, our RE, SMSC, PSHE and Citizenship provision provides excellent opportunities to deepen and develop understanding. Children embrace the concepts of respect, tolerance, rules (law) and individualism with enthusiasm and and compassion, demonstrating a good understanding of these in their daily interactions. The school makes considerable efforts to ensure children have exposure to a diverse experiences beyond our local community during which the above concepts are challenges and deeper understanding is enabled. Examples of enhancement activities include, sporting events, a range of visit/visitors, use of outdoor education centres and actively supporting a wide variety of local and national charities. Our Christian values drive all that we do encouraging children to embrace difference and be respectful and tolerant of others.
“The peace that Christ gives is to guide you in the decisions you make” (Colossians 3:15)
Social, Moral, Social and Cultural development at Sonning
What is SMSC?
SMSC stands for Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural development. It is an area of the curriculum that focuses on the non-academic development of students, such as understanding and appreciation of different cultures or dealing with moral conflicts or decisions.
When students are given the tools they need to develop spiritually, they learn how to reflect upon their own beliefs and those of their peers. They also develop an interest and fascination with other views, this helps to share empathy and understanding around topics such as religion or other beliefs.
Spiritual development fosters creativity and helps to build a healthy imagination. It also encourages students to be more reflective and self aware in their own learning. This can make academic learning more engaging and their response to feedback more conducive to academic progression.
We have a spirituality statement which identifies how we support pupils’ spiritual development across our school.
Moral development refers to students’ abilities to recognise the difference between right and wrong, both from a humanitarian point of view and from a legal standpoint. This links with the British Values, as ‘rule of law’ is a central pillar to the criteria.
“Appreciating others’ moral and ethical viewpoints helps pupils develop into more empathetic and caring members of society”
Understanding the consequences of individual behaviour and actions also improves students’ behaviour and accountability. This can positively affect their commitment to work, in class and at home. It also creates an attitude of collectivism within the class, encouraging students to look at work both individually and as a team with a common goal.
Appreciating others’ moral and ethical viewpoints can also help pupils to develop into more empathetic and caring members of society. This level of understanding allows them to envision teachers’ and other students’ viewpoints.
We work with our pupils to understand their moral (and social) responsibilities, including how they can help support our local community and national/global objectives.
Social Development teaches engagement with others and acceptance of differences between members of society. This ties in closely with the British Values. It includes willingness to participate in community projects and wider social groups, including sports clubs and volunteering.
Social skills are quite obviously an important part of personal development. Giving students the support they need to become more comfortable socially can help them in all aspects of life, through higher education to employment. It also tackles mental health issues and feelings of discontent in school, as speaking out is encouraged.
Our involvement in the community (Sonning Scarecrows, Remembrance, St. Andrew’s Church, Ali’s Pond, Sonning Farm, local care homes etc.) are evidence of our commitment to social development.
Finally, cultural development covers the understanding and appreciation of the rich tapestry of culture that makes up our society. From students’ own cultural influences and heritage to that of other students and staff. The understanding of Britain’s cultural past and present as a key area for growth.
“Ofsted sees the understanding the political processes as intrinsic to growth as both a student and a British citizen”
As well as this, appreciation and understanding of art, music, sports and other cultural pursuits is viewed as conducive to pupils’ development as it can help to form ideas for further study, as well as inspiration for students’ own contribution to British culture.
Knowledge of Britain’s democratic system, including voting system, parliamentary process and politics is also noted within cultural development. Ofsted sees the understanding of the political processes as intrinsic to growth as both a student and British citizen.
Our voting for School Council (with voting booths from WBC) and our development of pupils’ understanding of culture is a key aspect of the broad curriculum we offer.
SMSC in PSHE
PSHE allows for the main bulk of spiritual, moral, social and cultural development teaching to happen. When covering these topics, students are given space to think and contribute their own ideas. Often, the most constructive PSHE lessons consist of one big conversation about the topic in hand with students learning from each other and growing in confidence as the lesson progresses.
SMSC in Relationships and Sex Education (RSE)
Sex education often covers social and moral dilemmas, relationships and consent. Ensuring that the class tackles difficult topics and challenging questions with respect and maturity.
SMSC in Religious Education
RE is ideal for spiritual and cultural development. The key is not to simply teach knowledge about culture and religion, but also to teach a deeper understanding. Showing students that understanding and learning empathetically about other people’s beliefs can be fulfilling.
With RE, the foundations are already there for SMSC development. What you have to do as a teacher is to help students to explore this foundation more thoroughly.
SMSC in History
The added historical context that teachers can give on historic events can make cultural and social development more poignant.
It might sound obvious to some, but as it’s not part of the curriculum, the evils of the British empire and parts the murder of natives during the founding of America are just two examples of material that could be taught with more cultural and moral context.
SMSC in Politics and Philosophy
One of the closest matches between SMSC and the British Values criteria is that they both have a keen focus on the rule of law and the difference between good and bad. This is where both politics and philosophy come into the picture.