What is SMSC?

Evidence of pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development can be found where pupils (Ofsted Inspection Framework 2012):

  • are reflective about beliefs, values and more profound aspects of human experience, enabling them to develop curiosity in their learning, and as thoughtful, responsible individuals
  • develop and apply an understanding of right and wrong in their school life and life outside school
  • take part in a range of activities requiring social skills, including volunteering
  • develop awareness of and respect for diversity in relation to, for example, gender, race, religion and belief, culture, sexual orientation and disability
  • gain a well-informed understanding of the options and challenges facing them as they move through the school and on to the next stage of their education and training
  • develop an appreciation of theatre, music, art and literature
  • develop the skills and attitudes to enable them to participate fully and positively in democratic modern Britain
  • respond positively to a range of artistic, sporting and other cultural opportunities
  • understand and appreciate the range of different cultures within school and further afield as an essential element of their preparation for life.

Enhancing SMSC

Reflected through the new Ofsted Framework, inspectors will be considering the impact that Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development (SMSC) has on the ethos of the school.

Inspectors will be concentrating on the effect that SMSC has on enabling all students to become confident individuals, who appreciate themselves, others and those in their wider community.

Outstanding SMSC should be evident through teaching and the school’s curriculum but the impact should also be beyond the classroom and visible through the student’s attitudes.


Evidence can be found in many different forms. This could include:

  • Positive attitudes and values, shown both inside and outside of the classroom
  • Lesson observation of teachers’ promotion of SMSC opportunities
  • Curriculum contribution to SMSC of different subject areas
  • The range and uptake of opportunities provided by the school outside the formal curriculum
  • Assemblies and form time
  • PSHE, RE and Citizenship programmes
  • Analysis of behaviour/ racist/ discrimination incidents
  • Evaluation of students’ attitudes and changes over time
  • Classroom climate for learning: students’ attitudes and response from lesson observations and learning walks
  • School ethos (from student/parent surveys, external evaluation, learning walks, visitor feedback)
  • Relationships developed by the school with the wider community

At Standish Community High School we also evidence our SMSC contribution through ‘Gridmaker’. This allows the school to promote activities that highlight the importance of SMSC to the wider community.

SMSC Through the Curriculum

Art and Design

Spiritual education involves allowing students to reflect on and wonder at past contributions to society and the variety of things available to them.

Moral education involves students developing an awareness of the positive and negative effects that they can have on the environment.

Social education in Art and Design enhances our student’s ability to work co- operatively but also to showcase their own talents and build confidence.

Cultural education allows students to compare artefacts from their own cultures to those of different beliefs and backgrounds.

Examples of SMSC in Art and Design include:

  • Student’s reflection and respect for cultural diversity through gothic influences using clay.
  • Students investigate moral codes and understand human feelings and emotions through respecting materials in the classroom.
  • Through the creation of a tribal night light students are encouraged to understand how communities and societies different to their own, function.
  • Working as part of a team students are able to develop as sense of awe and wonder by creating 3D masks of the world.
Design and Technology

Spiritual education within technology offers the students an opportunity to reflect and consider the contributions made by past generations. Both the simplicity and complexity of technology, that have made the world what it is, become central to spiritual understanding.

Moral development enables the students to develop an understanding of the impact that their choices make. They can forsee both positive and negative impacts and how this, in turn, affects the environment.

Social education is prominent within technology and enhances the student’s ability to work together. Students are asked to design and make things collaboratively and this enables them to take ownership of ideas and resist confrontation.

Cultural development in technology allows students to reflect on artefacts from their own culture and those of others. They are able to compare and contrast them and develop an understanding of how things are made now, compared to how they were made in the past.

Examples of SMSC in Technology include:

  • Students are able to make and taste food from others cultures and traditions such as paella, pizza and gateaux. This develops their cultural awareness of food requirements in other countries.
  • Fascination, awe and wonder are created through research for the students when looking at specific dietary requirements that link to culture and religion.
  • Students are able to research, develop and create items from other cultures using their sewing skills and materials linked to or created in other countries.
  • Throughout the design & technology subjects, students are encouraged to show respect for each other and their environment. This is done through peer and self-assessment and students being responsible for their own resources.

Spiritual education encourages students through drama to experience the emotion and empathy involved in creativity. Feelings and expressions are nurtured and students are able to reflect on the beauty of their surroundings through performance.

Moral education plays a big part in Drama. Students, throughout both key stages, are involved in expressing their own responses to moral scenarios and dilemmas. They are able to appreciate the work of others, both inside and outside of school with practitioners encouraging critical discussion which is an integral part of learning.

Social development within drama provides all students with the experience that in turn will develop their social skills. Through collaborative work with their peers, students develop the skills that are necessary for collating ideas, selecting the most effective and then coming to a mutual agreement. Similarly, performances within drama allow students to further accept each other and their place in the class.

Cultural education involves students drawing on a wide variety of traditions and cultures and developing an aesthetic appreciation for them. Furthermore, students are able to explore their own culture and begin to recognise and appreciate similarities and differences.

Examples of SMSC in Drama include:

  • Through the study of silent movies, students are able to reflect on historical issues and justify their own personal opinions. Furthermore, social skills and discussion are developed through collaborative work.
  • Work around Darkwood Manor encourages the students to resolve conflict and justify opinions. Also, students are able to consider the opinions of others and reflect on the importance of participating.
  • Schemes of work relating to War encourage discussion around human rights and justice. Students reflect on the need for mutual respect and the resolution of conflict. Students can also begin to understand the beliefs and practices of others.
  • Blood Brothers workshops allow students to have visits from outside practitioners and to visit the theatre, enabling them to experience awe and wonder and relate this back to the story.

Spiritual education within English at Standish Community High School allows students to acquire insights into their personal viewpoints through a variety of literary texts. Through the scrutiny of key characters, students grasp a sense of empathy and have a growing understanding of meaning beyond the literal.

Moral education involves students analysing texts and exploring their own values which will help them to make reasonable decisions. Students are encouraged to construct persuasive arguments and reflect on a writer’s presentation of ideas.

Social development in English involves students reading a variety of texts and considering the impact the community has on their lives. Through group discussion, students are encouraged to take on different roles and learn negotiation. Exploration into the spoken and written language enables them to examine different attitudes to language use.

Cultural development in English allows students to develop a sense of empathy for others through the role play of short stories and looking at the backgrounds of people in society through poetry and drama.

Examples of SMSC in English include:

    • Through group performances, students gain an understanding of revolting rhymes and develop confidence with their peers.
    • Students investigate the changing nature of families today and link poetry and memories to personal experiences.
    • Students study the values, beliefs and human feelings and emotion underpinning such texts as Blood Brothers and To Kill a Mockingbird.
    • Through a variety of war poetry, students are able to reflect on the spiritual nature of death and focus on poetic terms and their use.

Spiritual development through geography inspires students to recognise the awe and wonder that surrounds them, both with the natural and human world. Reflection is made on the beauty of such things as rivers, mountains and volcanoes. This development also includes the understanding of how the environment still affects their everyday lives.

Moral education within geography allows students to reflect on the development that takes place around the globe and the effects that decisions and processes has on them. Moral issues such as fair trade, one child policy and child workers are also debated and students can question their own understanding of these issues.

Social geography involves students and their everyday lives. They are able to look at their world both locally and globally. Developing a sense of identity within their community, both inside of school and out.

Cultural education involves our students studying the lives and events of real people. It provides them with perfect opportunities to recognise similarities and differences among communities and encourages students to reflect on themselves and their place within society.

Examples of SMSC in Geography include:

  • The study of the advantages and disadvantages associated with population and focus on China’s one-child policy and fair trade through the development unit.
  • Students study the housing situation locally, the crisis in the Ukraine and the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
  • GCSE students study the issues and morality surrounding fair trade, aid and then access to housing with reference to the slums in Bangalore.
  • Students are able to develop an understanding for plant and animal adaptations in the tropical rainforest and the deserts through the study of them and then the creation of their own.

Spiritual education through history involves the students reflecting on the mystery of the past and the events which have shaped the world today. Students are able to discover the significance that certain people such as Mahatma Gandhi and Adolf Hitler had and the different interpretations that can occur from one event. History also allows students to engage with artefacts and become closer to the past.

Moral development encourages students to question and comment on moral dilemmas. Students can empathise with the story of right and wrong and decisions that people have made based on their situations.

Social education brings the contributions of the past closer to the present and allows our students to think about how these things have shaped today’s society. Through group work and role play, students are encouraged to express themselves and communicate more effectively with each other.

Cultural development enables students to discover the links between societies and reflect on multi-culturalism. Through the teaching of British, European and World History, students can develop an empathy for different cultures and traditions.

Examples of SMSC in History include:

  • GCSE students study the development of the American West through settlements and Industry. Reflecting on the impact that this had on their daily lives and what it means for America today.
  • Students have the opportunity to study the impact of medicine and the role that religion had to play in its progress. Reflection is made on today’s society and the impact that the changes to medicine have had both advantages and disadvantages.
  • Students reflect on the issues and problems surrounding the invasion of Britain. Developing an understanding of the effects that may still occur in today’s society.
  • Through first-hand experience and empathy students are able to develop an understanding of what it was like to fight in WW1. Taking a trip through Belgium students poignantly visit one of the many cemeteries.

Spiritual education within ICT enables students to reflect on the amazing advances in ICT technology today. Students participate in competitions and group work to enhance their self-worth and develop an understanding of where they ‘fit’ within society. Students also gain an understanding of how computers sometimes can perform better than humans with certain activities.

Moral education involves scenarios which students put themselves in real life situations to reflect on the morality behind them. Students also reflect on the issues surrounding the misuse of ICT, both inside and outside of school. Moral education within ICT allows students to investigate their perceptions of certain topics within the media and then develop them where necessary.

Social development within ICT is prominent when encouraging group activities and social interaction. Students are able to express themselves effectively and need to work collaboratively to succeed within projects and collect effective research. Finally, students are encouraged to empathise with certain groups within society and try to develop better ICT solutions for them.

Cultural development allows students to explore cultural barriers and to develop ways around this through ICT. Students create new opportunities through ICT and investigate the possibility of email and contact throughout the world.

Examples of SMSC in ICT include:

  • Students investigate how ICT is used throughout the world. Concentrating on how technologies are used and the use of the internet in third world countries.
  • Students are encouraged to investigate the impact of digital inclusion, accessibility issues and copyright within today’s society. They develop an understanding through researching modern day examples of press intrusion and the accessibility of private information. Reflection will also be made on data protection.
  • Students are given the opportunity to explore the moral issues surrounding chat-room safety and staying safe online. Also reflecting on whether large information systems should be used.
  • Students, through individual and group tasks, are asked to consider the development of software to suit the user. Students are to reflect upon certain criteria such as foreign languages and spiritual concerns that link to religion.

Spiritual education allows the realisation to students the awe and wonder that is mathematics. It explains how maths is present all around the world and throughout nature. It also explores the sense of achievement through problem solving.

Moral development is evident in maths through the interpretation of data and how this links to society. Students develop the ability to use data to explain the issues surrounding moral dilemmas.

Social education enables students to work collaboratively and investigate the ideal working scenario. It also allows students to develop their own intuition and link this to what they have learned in class.

Cultural development explores mathematics and its uses throughout different cultures and traditions. An investigation into which mathematical techniques have come from which culture is given much importance. Allowing students to consider the wealth of mathematics available to them.

Examples of SMSC in Maths include:

  • Through Gapminder promotion of cultural discussions take place and this allows students to see scatter graphs of social indicators.
  • Students study the exchange rates and development of patterns in a variety of different cultures. Thus promoting an understanding of money throughout the world.
  • Students work collaboratively on problem solving and using social skills throughout the Fun Roadshow.

Students conduct an opinion survey on moral views surrounding tax, reflecting upon the issues surrounding tax and people’s feelings towards it.

Modern Foreign Languages

Spiritual development within MFL allows students to consider all the differences and similarities there are between language and culture. Students are able to develop an understanding of how language is constructed and the ways in which we learn to speak them.

Moral education ensures that students are able to use language as their vehicle for expressing their opinions on right and wrong. Students develop an appreciation for the messages that language carries including moral development and they are able to consider other’s views on moral issues.

Social education is crucial in MFL, allowing the students to enhance their communication skills. They are able, with purpose, to communicate with others from different social and cultural backgrounds.

Cultural development is evident throughout MFL as students are taught to value all languages and are therefore learning to value, respect and understand people from all cultures.

Examples of SMSC in MFL include:

  • Students have the opportunity to visit Europe developing their first-hand knowledge of the differences and similarities in culture.
  • Key Stage 3 Students compete in Manchester against other students from this and other schools in a language spelling test. Thus enhancing their ability to speak with purpose to other cultures.
  • Students study the festivals and celebrations from other cultures which includes information about different religious and secular festivals worldwide.
  • Once again enhancing the student’s ability to speak for purpose, students gather information on the differences in home styles and food in foreign countries. Developing their understanding of the differences in styles of cooking and ingredients worldwide.
Physical Education (PE)

Spiritual development involves the students learning a variety of skills which allows them to express their feelings and emotions. Students are taught sequences in principles such as gymnastics and dance and this enables them to be amazed at what their bodies can do and allow staff and peers to be a part of this.

Moral education in PE concerns the students having the ability to understand how PE can influence their lives and have a healthy impact on both their body and mind. Physical education is able to highlight the advantages of taking care of yourself and enjoying this through team activities. Students are also encouraged to reflect upon the need for rules and fair play and the reasons why they need to abide by them.

Social development is prominent throughout PE allowing students to develop socially through team activities. They are able to experience feelings of joy, determination and loss with their peers. Students are also given the opportunity to be a coach/ leader and develop their leadership skills in communication and commitment.

Cultural education within PE involves the students developing an understanding for different cultures and traditions through games and dances. It also encourages students to reflect upon the differences in roles of men and women within sport.

Examples of SMSC in Physical Education include:

  • Students learn about the styles of dance from both the African and Celtic traditions, developing their understanding of other cultures and traditions.
  • Students through a variety of sporting styles learn techniques linking with leadership, coaching and co-operation. This enhances both their social and moral awareness.
  • Students are able to teach each other techniques, self-esteem and health and well-being through being role models for younger, less able students.

Students reflect on the values and morals surrounding ‘winning at all costs’ ideals. Inter-form competition and World Cup activities are used to enhance skills that will develop the students socially.

Religious Education (RE)

Spiritual education within RE involves the students searching for meaning and the purposes for which we live. Students are encouraged, through learning about different religions, to reflect on their own beliefs and the things that are important to them. Opportunities are taken also for students to discuss and consider ultimate questions.

Moral education encourages students to develop an understanding for right and wrong and the differing moral values of society. Through the delivery of RE, students have the opportunity to express their own personal responses to right and wrong and listen to the responses of others.

Social education provides students with the opportunity to compare and contrast religions and link religious beliefs to everyday life and actions. Through group discussion and activities students are also encouraged to work co-operatively.

Cultural education within RE allows students to understand what it means to ‘belong’ and develop confidence. Students are also gaining an awareness of how to respond positively to the changes within society.

Examples of SMSC in RE include:

  • All students are given the opportunity to gain first-hand experience of what it means to be religious through guest speakers and trip to Places of Worship.
  • Students investigate the social, moral and cultural issues surrounding moral dilemmas such as euthanasia and the death penalty.
  • Using current information and statistics, students explore what it means to be a citizen of the UK and how they are affected by government policies.
  • Working cooperatively, students are asked to create their own 21st Century Place of Worship. Students develop an understanding of a sense of belonging and consider the differences and similarities in the criteria for a variety of Place of Worship.

Spiritual education within science involves investigation into the meaning and purpose of all things natural and physical. Students reflect upon the scale of things such as the smallest micro-organism to the tallest tree. Science instils the emotional drive to want to learn more and appreciate the wonders of such things as crystals, rainbows and space.

Moral education encourages students to be open-minded and be respectful of others and not make judgements. Students are able to link scientific problems/ developments with moral dilemmas and consider the future for further generations.

Social development within science provides students with the ability to develop teamwork and take responsibility. When taking part in practical work, students must take responsibility for not only there’s but others safety also and consider the effect that science has on our lives. Students are asked to consider both the advantages and disadvantages to scientific advances and social responsibility.

Cultural education allows the students to reflect on scientific discoveries and look at them as just as important as music and film. Advances are looked at worldwide in many different cultures. The dependence of science on the environment and vice versa is a central issue.

Examples of SMSC in Science include:

  • To develop their moral and spiritual understanding, students reflect on the morality of current issues such as Stem Cell research, Evolution and Genetic Testing.
  • Students are asked to reflect on the theories behind future science options for resources such as electricity, alternative fuels and methods to reduce pollution. Students will work in groups to complete many of these activities.
  • Reflection made on how scientific perceptions can alter across the World. Looking closely at diet, STIs and lifestyle choices.
  • Students will be able to reflect on the explanations surrounding the origins of the universe and studying such scientists as Darwin and Wegener. These in turn then further their ability to make informed choices and develop socially.

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