What is SMSC?


16th June 2017

What is SMSC?

SMSC stands for spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. All schools in England must now show how well they support children’s SMSC development.

What is SMSC?

What does each aspect of SMSC include?

At Cornerstones we define the aspects of SMSC as follows:

Spiritual: The opportunity to explore beliefs, experience and faiths, feelings and values; enjoy learning about oneself, others and the surrounding world; use imagination and creativity and reflect on experiences.

Moral: The opportunity to learn what is right and wrong and respect the law; understand consequences; investigate moral and ethical issues and offer reasoned views.

Social: The opportunity to use a range of social skills to participate in the local community and beyond; appreciate diverse viewpoints; participate, volunteer and cooperate; resolve conflict.

Cultural: The opportunity to explore and appreciate cultural influences; appreciate the role of Britain’s parliamentary system; participate in cultural opportunities; understand, accept, respect and celebrate diversity.

What are fundamental British values?

In 2014, the Department for Education told all schools to promote ‘British values’ and advised that this is done through SMSC.

Ofsted also require schools to promote ‘British values’ at every level including through their SMSC development, the curriculum and school leadership.

The fundamental British values are:

  • democracy
  • the rule of law
  • individual liberty
  • tolerance and respect

Read the DfE document Promoting fundamental British values through SMSC to find out more about how FBV should be promoted in school.

How does SMSC promote fundamental British values (FBV)?

Schools should aim to embed SMSC in all aspects of school life, from individual lessons to extra-curricular activities and assemblies. At Cornerstones, we put SMSC at the heart of our curriculum by basing our pedagogy, The Four Cornerstones, on the aspects of SMSC. This ensures that schools using the Cornerstones Curriculum can evidence SMSC in all their teaching and learning.

Watch our SMSC video here to learn more.

What do Ofsted say?

The importance of SMSC is outlined in Ofsted’s School Inspection Handbook. The degree to which schools promote SMSC directly affects how Ofsted judge its overall effectiveness, quality and standards.

You can read the criteria outlined in points 135–139 of Ofsted’s School Inspection Handbook 2016.

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’.

To help schools incorporate SMSC objectives into their lessons, We’ve developed a set of skills that teachers can use in their individual lesson planning. These are available to Cornerstones schools on The Hub.

In addition, we’ve also developed subject-leader checklists that schools can use to evaluate the effectiveness of SMSC in all subjects across school. These provide excellent evidence for Ofsted and encourage a focus on SMSC throughout the curriculum.

How does SMSC link to FBV?

There is still some confusion about how SMSC promotes the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and tolerance and respect. To help, we have devised a table to show the links between our SMSC skills and FBV. You can download the table below.

Click here to download your free SMSC skills and FBV links table.

Cornerstones Yoimoji – Putting SMSC and FBV at the heart of your school

The Yoimoji are a collection of 58 colourful characters designed to help you promote fundamental British values. Each Yoimoji represents a value that, over time, helps build children’s understanding.



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