Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development.
Including the Promotion of Fundamental British Values.
Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural development are all interlinked elements of personal growth. Each one has a distinctive meaning and they need to be understood separately in order to have a true understanding of the whole.
Provision for SMSC reaches far beyond any separate slot within the curriculum. In school SMSC development occurs through explicit teaching, such as in PSHE lessons and planned assembly themes, and more indirectly, for example through the communication of our school ethos, implementation of our behaviour policies, clubs and school events.
Promoting Fundamental British Values
The DfE have recently stated that schools should actively promote “the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.”
As a result of the promotion of British values, pupils are expected to develop:
- An understanding of how citizens can influence decision-making through the democratic process;
- An appreciation that living under the rule of law protects individual citizens and is essential for their wellbeing and safety;
- An understanding that there is a separation of power between the executive and the judiciary, and that whilst some public bodies such as the police and the army can be held to account through Parliament, others such as the courts maintain independence;
- An understanding that the freedom to choose and hold other faiths and beliefs is protected in law;
- An acceptance that other people having different faiths and beliefs to oneself (or having none) should be accepted and tolerated, and should not be the cause of prejudicial or discriminatory behaviour.
- An understanding of the importance of identifying and combatting discrimination.
At Hook Lane, British Values are promoted through a variety of channels, such as:
- Teaching within the curriculum
- Planned assembly themes
- The promotion of our school Vision and Ethos
- The implementation of our school behaviour policy and inclusion policy
- Use of rewards and sanctions
- School Council
- Extended curriculum e.g. trips, visitors and themed weeks
- Responsibilities such as games gang, peer support etc.
- Celebration of work through displays, website, assembly
- Provision of time for reflection and debate e.g. philosophy, circle-time
This list is not exhaustive.
Breaking down the elements of SMSC and considering the links with the promotion of British Values:
This is often associated with aspects of religion other than belief and doctrine For some, this link with organised religion remains central, and spiritual development may be seen as mainly associated with RE . For others, spirituality is seen as universal, for instance through experiences related to creativity and contemplation, music or nature. It has in the past especially been associated with experiences of 'awe and wonder' and this idea remains with many teachers.
Increasingly, spirituality is seen as separate from religious affiliation and as much more like a thread running through children's (and adults') ordinary lives than a set of extraordinary experiences. This thread is one about 'big', existential questions, the search for meaning and purpose. For some people, these are best explored within the context of religion, but they are universal questions, many of them related to what is hard -and often impossible - to explain; and frequently related to the difficult areas of life such as loss and pain. However, they require opportunities and encouragement to think deeply, both in the context of ordinary school life and through special experiences.
Through these universal questions will emerge a sense of identity, with young children who are often focused on their own needs coming to recognise both their independence and interdependence ; over time we encourage our children to see how they fit into a ‘bigger picture’. Experiences of wonder, such as a beautiful piece of music, the first sight of the sea or the birth of a baby, help to place one's individual experience into a wider perspective. So spiritual development is not just about oneself but about connectedness to others, to the environment, and possibly to God.
Spiritual development involves challenging what is taken for granted. Since spiritual development would seem to relate to what is mysterious, uncertain and hard to understand, teachers need to leave some space for what is ambiguous and paradoxical. It is important to recognise that in some respects, young children have many qualities – such as a capacity of joy, wonder and curiosity - which are lost or suppressed in adulthood; and that a consideration of spiritual development may call into question some basic assumptions of educational policy and encourage educators to review what they aim to achieve.
In summary – we are providing opportunities for challenge and open-ended questioning in all planning as part of our commitment to Visible Learning strategies and the use of the TASC approach. Time is planned (and sometimes unplanned) for children to pose and discuss the questions that they want to know the answers to – even when those questions may be challenging or difficult to definitively answer, this is done through the regular curriculum, PSHE and philosophy.
Moral development is usually associated with knowing the difference 'between right and wrong' and is linked with behaviour both in the social and educational context. Morality is rarely black and white, and we know that the moral code that children experience at home or with friends may vary quite significantly from the moral code that we provide for them at school.
A morality based on the distinction between right and wrong is usually known as duty ethics. It is often presented in terms of what one should not do, and consists of rules that are imposed by society, family, and other adults. The problem with this is that children are perfectly capable of knowing how they should act, but choosing not to do so. Children will only ever have a superficial understanding of right and wrong through duty ethics. A school behaviour system that emphasises choice and consequence can be useful in developing moral responsibility, but only when children are supported in knowing which are the correct choices and why (remembering that, because of their experience before and outside of school, some children will need more support than others).
An alternative approach, known as virtue ethics, concentrates on what sort of person one wishes to be within the framework of society and setting. Virtue ethics focuses on the positive virtues and attributes involved with being a good citizen of that society, such as respect, cooperation and honesty. As children practice making these decisions, based on their own, their family and their society’s expectations, backed by positive reinforcement, motivation to behave in a moral way will be developed. The examples set by adults are crucial to developing a meaningful moral code, since this is how children will see which virtues are positive and valued within the school setting.
In promoting British values it is expected that pupils understand that whilst different people may hold different views about what is right or wrong, all people living in England are subject to its law. The ethos and teaching at school should reflect and support the rule of English civil and criminal law.
In summary - while the most obvious evidence for moral development may be children's behaviour, the relationships, values and beliefs exemplified by the school environment and lived by the adults within it are powerful evidence of provision for moral development. So moral development is not just about behaviour, but how children are helped to develop as responsible persons, with moral agency, against a background of a society that often provides mixed messages. As a school we aim to provide a consistent message and a meaningful moral code which is shared by all members of the school community. We aim to address our children’s moral development through teaching PSHE, assembly themes and within the regular curriculum. The consistency of our behaviour systems supports pupil’s moral development and their own responsibility for this.
This refers to how children learn to interact with each other and with adults, in a variety of contexts, initially in small and familiar settings and increasingly in larger and less familiar situations. It is part of our core aims to enable children to develop self-knowledge, self-esteem and self-confidence.
Recognising other people’s feelings and beliefs – and understanding that these may be similar or different to one’s own – is an essential part of social development, but one which many children find difficult. Empathy is developed through regular formal and informal opportunities to practice responses through play, conversation, drama, sharing experiences and equipment, and working in teams. Children need to be encouraged to become both more independent and more interdependent.
Children need to learn how to critically challenge their own views and the views of others, and as educators, it is important that we develop resilient learners. Even (or maybe especially) the most intelligent learners must not expect always to be right first time. They must not crumble when they are wrong. They must not give up at the first sign of trouble. The best learners will accept challenge and look for ways to overcome it. Part of our role in developing children socially is to provide the kinds of challenges that will ensure that they are not always right first time. This links well with our visible learning ethos and to the TASC approach and to the investigative approaches that we have looked at in Maths where children take the lead on setting and solving problems. It is important that we do not give repeated and unthinking praise as this can lead to a lack of challenge. Notice how often you are praising for intelligence as opposed to praising for effort. Social development takes place throughout the curriculum, with opportunities in all subject areas and in line with the current focus on British values, we encourage our learners to accept responsibility for themselves and their learning and to understand how they can contribute positively to the lives of others in the school community and locality.
We use the word culture to refer to many different things, and there are at least three aspects to cultural development:
- Identity. Helping children to understand the groups to which they belong, their associated beliefs and practices, and similarities and differences to other groups. ‘Who am I and where do I fit in?’ This is increasingly vital in a globalised world. Identity matters to each of us and relates to background factors such as ethnicity, religion, family, community and language. Developing cultural identity involves bonding with those who are similar and bridging with those who are different.
- Art, music and literature. Introducing children to ‘the arts’ reminds us that teaching is not just about gathering information and acquiring skills, but is also about broadening and enriching the range of experiences. The curriculum needs to be broad and balanced, extending experience through visits and visitors, and through opportunities to practice and create. We have a particular responsibility to provide these experiences to children whose experience outside of school is limited – thus broadening both their experience and their aspiration.
- Environment. The attributes of the setting in which we live and experience. As in ‘classroom culture’ or ‘Western culture’. As previously discussed, the school or classroom culture helps to provide a ‘moral order’ which is often lacking in the child’s world outside school. At the heart of school environments and cultures are the people in them and the relationships which they nurture.
The promotion of British values encourages tolerance and harmony between different cultural traditions by enabling students to appreciate and respect their own and others cultures. We address this in school through both educating our children and celebrating the range of cultures and traditions that are evident at Hook Lane in lessons and through assemblies. We also provide numerous opportunities for our pupils to broaden their cultural horizons through trips, visitors, immersion in the arts via the curriculum. We aim always to reflect the range of cultures at our school in our planning, celebration and imagery.
DfE (2014) Promoting fundamental British values as part of SMSC in schools
DfE (2011) The Prevent Strategy 2011
Eaude, T (2011) Understanding Ofsted’s requirements for spiritual, moral, social and cultural development Middlesex, Forum Business Media
Ofsted (1995) Guidance on the inspection of Nursery and Primary Schools
Ofsted (2004) Promoting and evaluating pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development
Ofsted (2012) The evaluation schedule for the inspection of maintained schools and academies from January 2012