SMSC Overview

In the revised Ofsted framework there is a renewed emphasis on the inspection of Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development (SMSC).

Inspectors will consider the climate and ethos of the school and what effect this has on enabling all pupils to grow and flourish, become confident individuals, and appreciate their own worth and that of others.

Outstanding SMSC can be seen where SMSC development underpins all the school’s curriculum and teaching. Impact is evident in and beyond all classrooms and nearly all students’ attitudes.

Defining Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development

Providing a definition of SMSC that is universally accepted is not straightforward.

The Ofsted Inspection Framework says

Evidence of pupils’ Spiritual,Moral, Social and Cultural development can be found, for example, where pupils:

  • are reflective about beliefs, values and more profound aspects of human experience, using their imagination and creativity, and developing curiosity in their learning
  • 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
  • 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
  • This list is not exhaustive.
Ofsted Inspection Framework, Sep 2012
The subsidiary guidance for Ofsted says

Inspectors should investigate the impact of the curriculum on the pupils’ Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural (SMSC) development.

This may be seen through:

  • lesson observations of different subjects like RE, Art and Music. Discussion with pupils and staff will provide an important insight into how well SMSC is planned as part of the curriculum in other subjects
  • observation of other activities. Inspectors should investigate whether there is a coherent approach to the promotion of SMSC through activities such as Tutorials, Citizenship Programmes and discussions with pupils about their work
  • the range of opportunities created by the school for pupils to take part in a range of artistic, cultural, sporting, dramatic, musical, mathematical, scientific, technological and, where appropriate, international events and activities that promote aspects of pupils’ SMSC development.
Ofsted Subsidiary Guidance
Association of School and College Leaders

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) suggests Ofsted will evaluate the school’s promotion of Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural development by providing ‘planned and coherent’ opportunities in the curriculum and through interactions with staff to develop pupils’:

  • ability to reflect on their school experiences, use imagination, creativity and develop curiosity in their learning
  • ability to apply an understanding of right and wrong in their school life (and, one would hope, beyond school)
  • willingness to take part in activities requiring social skills
  • understanding of options and challenges as they move through school and on to the next stage in their education/training
  • willingness to overcome any barriers to their learning
  • ability to respond positively to a range of artistic, cultural and sporting opportunities provided by the school
  • skills and attitudes to participate fully and positively in democratic, modern Britain
  • understanding of and respect for the range of different cultures within school and beyond as an essential part of their preparation for life.

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

  • Positive attitudes and values
  • 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
Desired Outcomes

In addition to what Ofsted say about SMSC, at Wardle Academy we aim to ensure all students experience and demonstrate the following, in the four SMSC areas:



  • Develop personality and character
  • Are self-aware and sensitive to the needs of others
  • Think deeply and reflect
  • Experience a sense of awe, wonder and mystery
  • Have clear personal values and are open to new ideas
  • Appreciate the importance of beliefs and values in human affairs
  • Have a clear sense of identity and belonging
  • Are able to express their feelings and emotions openly
  • Are creative, imaginative and perceptive
  • Are curious about the world around them
  • Respond with interest and develop from new experiences


  • Take personal responsibility for their actions
  • Know the difference between right and wrong
  • Tell the truth and keep promises
  • Respect the rights and property of others
  • Exercise self-discipline
  • Understand the consequences of the actions of themselves and others
  • Help those less fortunate than themselves
  • Show a keen interest in ethical issues
  • Make reasoned and responsible responses to moral dilemmas
  • Reassess values in the light of experiences
  • Articulate their own attitudes and values
  • Help set guidelines to govern their own behaviour and behave consistently in accordance with these principles


  • Co-operate effectively with each other and participate successfully in the community as a whole
  • Develop the inter-personal skills necessary for successful relationships
  • Exercise responsibility
  • Participate successfully as a member of a group or team
  • Show respect for people, living things, property and the environment
  • Relate well to other people’s social skills and personal qualities
  • Accept others’ rights to hold different views / beliefs
  • Respect others’ needs and interests
  • Resolve conflicts intelligently and seek consensus
  • Challenge, when necessary and in appropriate ways, the values of a group or wider community
  • Reflect on their own contribution to society and to the world of work
  • Benefit from advice offered by those in authority or counselling roles
  • Appreciate the rights and responsibilities of individuals within the wider social setting
  • Understand how societies function and are organised in structures such as the family, the school and local and wider communities
  • Participate in activities relevant to the community
  • Understand the notion of interdependence in an increasingly complex society.


  • Understand that cultures are always changing and equip students to cope with change
  • Have insight into their own and others’ cultures
  • Embrace and celebrate diversity
  • Challenge any form of prejudice
  • Recognise and understand their own cultural assumptions and values
  • Appreciate cultural diversity and accord dignity and respect to other people’s values and beliefs
  • Are open to new ideas and demonstrate a willingness to modify cultural values in the light of experience
  • Develop an ability to use language and understand images / icons – for example, in music, art, literature – which have significance and meaning in a cultural context
  • Are willing to participate in, and respond to, artistic and cultural enterprises
  • Experience a sense of personal enrichment through encounters with cultural media and traditions from a range of cultures
  • Have a regard for the heights of human achievement in all cultures and societies
  • Appreciate the diversity and interdependence

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