SMSC & British Values

Spiritual, moral, social and cultural development

SMSC stands for spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils.

The Citizenship Foundation defines spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils in relation to pupils’ ability and willingness to do the following:

  • Spiritual: Explore beliefs and experience; respect values; discover oneself and the surrounding world; use imagination and creativity; reflect.
  • Moral: Recognise right and wrong; understand consequences; investigate moral and ethical issues; offer reasoned views.
  • Social: Use social skills in different contexts; work well with others; resolve conflicts; understand how communities work.
  • Cultural: Appreciate cultural influences; participate in culture opportunities; understand, accept, respect and celebrate diversity.

How do we promote the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of our pupils?

At Kells Lane Primary, teachers promote SMSC in lots of different ways. Obvious ways are in Religious Education and assemblies, but SMSC can be developed in all subjects and lots of aspects of school life. These could include:

  • English, where children will read a range of different fiction books set in different countries and cultures
  • Maths, where children might look at Islamic art when learning about shape and symmetry
  • PHSE sessions where we promote the social and emotional aspects of learning
  • SMSC development is also embedded into our ethos and school displays and can be sensed in our day-to-day practices and many of our policies and practices.  A key part of the social development of pupils is their acceptance and engagement with British Values. 

Statutory context of SMSC for schools

We value SMSC as a way to enrich our children’s experiences and their outcomes.

Slightly confusingly, the National Curriculum sets out that three of these aspects, alongside mental and physical development, should be promoted in schools:

Every state-funded school must offer a curriculum which is balanced and broadly based and which promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society.

National Curriculum, Department for Education, September 2013)

Social development is missing from the list, but we regard working with others and the social aspects of learning as really important for our pupils.

British values

In June 2014, David Cameron emphasised the important role that British values can play in education. Further, how well a school promotes such values is an aspect of Ofsted’s inspection process.

Although in 2014-15 this is something which is developing in its significance for schools, it is not something new at Kells Lane Primary. British values are promoted in so much of what we do, not least during our school assemblies, Religious Education and PHSE sessions.

As well as actively promoting British values, the opposite also applies: we would actively challenge pupils, staff or parents expressing opinions contrary to fundamental British values, including ‘extremist’ views.

The term ‘British values’ might be slightly misleading in that these values are integral to so many countries throughout the world – they differ in no way from the values of most western European countries, for example.

Below are just a few examples of how we promote British values. The first section is a general overview; the others are specific expectations set out by Ofsted.

Being part of Britain

As a school, we value and celebrate the diverse heritages of everybody at Kells Lane. Alongside this, we value and celebrate being part of Britain. In general terms, this means that we celebrate traditions, such as customs in the course of the year; for example, Harvest festival during the Autumn term, and what could be more British than a trip to a pantomime or performing in a nativity around Christmas time! We also value and celebrate national events, such as the London Olympics.

Further, children learn about being part of Britain from different specific perspectives. Two specific examples of when we teach about being part of Britain are:

Geographically: Our annual, whole-school International Day ensures that children have a better understanding of where Britain is in relation to the rest of Europe and other countries in the world.

Historically: Children learn about British history, whether it is life during WW2, the Great Fire of London or studying our local area, children learn about an aspect of life and how this has developed and changed over time.


Children, parents and staff have many opportunities for their voices to be heard at Kells Lane Primary. Democracy is central to how we operate.

An obvious example is our Student Councillors. The election of the Student Councillors reflects our British electoral system and demonstrates democracy in action: candidates make speeches, pupils consider characteristics important for an elected representative, pupils vote in secret using ballot boxes etc. Made up of four representatives from Year six, the Student Councillors meet regularly for an assembly with KS2 to discuss whole school topics and issues. The council is able to genuinely effect change within the school; in the past, the Student Council has sampled new food for our school menu and are actively involved in recruitment.

Other examples of ‘pupil voice’ are:

  • children agree their Class Charter and the rights associated with these; all children contribute to the drawing up of the charter
  • children have the opportunity to nominate and vote for others to receive a certificate for great learning or choice

Pupils are always listened to by adults and are taught to listen carefully and with concern to each other, respecting the right of every individual to have their opinions and voices heard. We encourage pupils to take ownership of not only their school but also of their own learning and progress. This encourages a hightened sense of both personal and social responsibility and is demonstrated on a daily basis by our pupils.

Rules and laws

The importance of rules and laws, whether they be those that govern our school or our country, are referred to and reinforced often, such as in assemblies and when reflecting on behaviour choices. At the start of the school year, each class discusses and sets its own Class Charter, a set of principles that are clearly understood by all and seen to be necessary to ensure that every class member is able to learn in a safe and ordered environment.

Pupils are taught the value and reasons behind laws, that they govern and protect us, the responsibilities that this involves, and the consequences when laws are broken. These values are reinforced in different ways:

  • visits from authorities such as the police and fire service
  • during Religious Education, when rules for particular faiths are thought about
  • during other school subjects, where there is respect and appreciation for different rules – in a sports lesson, for example.

Individual liberty

Alongside rules and laws, we promote freedom of choice and the right to respectfully express views and beliefs. Through the provision of a safe, supportive environment and empowering education, we provide boundaries for our young pupils to make choices safely; for example:

  • choices about what learning challenge or activity
  • choices around the participation in extra-curricular activities
  • Young Leadership Award for the Year 6 children which is a transition unit completed with Joseph Swan Academy Secondary School.

Our pupils are encouraged to know, understand and exercise their rights and personal freedoms and are taught how to exercise these safely, such as in our e-safety and PHSE lessons.

Mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs

Our pupils know and understand that it is expected and imperative that respect is shown to everyone, whatever differences we may have, and to everything, whether it is a school resource, a religious belief or whatever. Children learn that their behaviour choices have an effect on their own rights and those of others. All members of the school community should treat each other with respect.

Specific examples of how we at Kells Lane Primary enhance pupils understanding and respect for different faiths and beliefs are:

  • through Religious Education, PHSE and other lessons where we might develop awareness and appreciation of other cultures – in English through fiction and in Art by considering culture from other parts of the world, for example
  • enjoying a depth of study during Inspiring Visitor days, where sometimes we will celebrate and enjoy learning about the differences in countries and cultures around the word (whilst at other times we might consider groups or individuals who might be vulnerable in some way, such as those with a disability)
  • equality assemblies and ‘Show Racism the Red Card’ workshops

Sadly, no school can guarantee that there will never be instances which are contrary to this value. At Kells Lane Primary, such instances are extremely rare.