Promoting fundamental British values and SMSC in primary schools

The Department for Education (DfE) states that schools must prepare children for ‘life in Britain’. Part of that requirement includes promoting ‘fundamental British values’ (FBV), which might seem daunting at first. But there’s no need to worry. At Cornerstones, we’ve got it covered.

How do Ofsted define FBV?

Understanding FBV isn’t as tricky as you might think. Indeed, there’s a good chance that your school already covers a lot of what’s required.

Ofsted defines FBV as:

  • democracy
  • the rule of law
  • individual liberty
  • mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith.

The advice from the Department for Education is that schools should promote FBV through their spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) curriculum.

It’s also worth noting that the degree to which your school promotes SMSC and FBV directly affects how Ofsted judges its overall effectiveness, quality and standards.

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

What must schools teach?

Chances are, most schools will say that they promote SMSC and FBV through assemblies, school council work and their behaviour policy. These are all valid and valuable ways of engaging children in this type of learning.

However, to be considered outstanding, Ofsted requires schools to put SMSC and FBV at the heart of the school’s work.

Just putting a few posters on the wall and tweaking the assembly content won’t quite cut it when it comes to inspection time. You need to embed SMSC and FBV into every part of school life. Don’t panic. It’s perfectly possible.

Putting SMSC and fundamental British values at the heart of your school’s work

Our pedagogy is the foundation of all Cornerstones products. Using the Cornerstones Curriculum and our additional products gives schools everything they need to meet Ofsted’s high standards for promoting FBV through SMSC.

We’ve made a short video that outlines exactly how the Cornerstones pedagogy promotes SMSC.

How does the Cornerstones Curriculum help schools promote fundamental British values?

The Cornerstones Curriculum is delivered through more than 80 exciting Imaginative Learning Projects (ILPs). Many ILPs give schools plenty of opportunities to promote aspects of SMSC and FBV. For example in Y1, children explore what is right and wrong in the exciting Year 1 ‘Superheroes’ project, while in Y3 children learn about the the rule of law and respect and tolerance, in the popular project ‘Heroes and Villains’. In Y6, the project ‘A child’s war’ explores the wide range of cultural influences that have shaped our heritage and allows children to explore the effects and consequences of World War II. An SMSC and FBV coverage checker is currently in development to help Cornerstones schools identify coverage across school.

SMSC skills based on Ofsted criteria

We have recently devised a set of skills based on Ofsted’s latest definitions of SMSC and are in the process of mapping them to every ILP in the Cornerstones Curriculum.

Schools can use our SMSC skills to provide crucial evidence about how they are making SMSC and FBV a central part of their teaching. Cornerstones schools will be able to access the SMSC skills statements on the Cornerstones Hub soon.

Opportunities for promoting SMSC and FBV through subjects

Each curriculum subject lends itself to promoting aspects of SMSC and FBV. Here at Cornerstones, we’re currently developing subject leader checklists for all curriculum subjects. The checklists will help subject leaders evaluate how effectively their school covers aspects of SMSC and FBV across the curriculum.

We plan to provide subject leader checklists to all Cornerstones schools in the summer term 2017.

Click here to download a subject leader checklist to see how science can promote SMSC and FBV.

Delivering SMSC and FBV through RE

Our brand new product, Love to Celebrate, helps schools actively promote SMSC and FBV through a range of faith-based projects. The 39 ILPs cover a range of religions and festivals and have been mapped to our SMSC skills.

Love to Celebrate comes with an online coverage checker and a range of colourful and child-friendly resources. It’s been written specifically to help children learn about the different cultures and beliefs of the people in their own locality and wider world and help them develop respect for and tolerance of people with different faiths and beliefs.

Click here to download a free sample of Love to Celebrate.


Coming soon – Democracy rules!

Here at Cornerstones we are confident that our curriculum can promote SMSC and FBV but we also feel that some SMSC skills may need more specific teaching. That’s why we have developed our new Fundamental British Values pack, Democracy rules!

Each project contains a memorable experience, three develop sessions, a ‘Big debate’ Innovate stage and an Express session to help children learn more about making and breaking rules, the rule of law, what happens when people don’t agree with the law, democracy and the right to vote.

Coming soon – Cornerstones Yoimoji

We are currently working on a brand new product called Cornerstones Yoimoji, specifically designed to help schools promote FBV. The Yoimoji are a series of characters that each represent a specific value, such as ‘kind’, ‘brave’, ‘resilient’ and ‘democratic’.

We think the Yoimoji are going to transform the way schools engage pupils in FBV. From collectable stickers to animated video stories that show the values in action, children will love learning about what the Yoimoji get up to.

Cornerstones Yoimoji will be available later this year.

Find out more

If you want to learn more about what Cornerstones can do to help you promote SMSC and FBV in your school, email or call us on 03333 20 8000.


Published by

Melanie Moore

Mel is Curriculum Director and the author of the Cornerstones Curriculum. She writes, edits and oversees all curriculum materials and leads our creative team. Mel has over 20 years of primary teaching experience, including as a deputy headteacher. She has also been a teacher adviser and a local authority strategy adviser.

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