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Gap Analysis - Spotting the Gaps in Your SMSC Provision

"SMSC is everywhere!"

When we talk with headteachers and SMSC co-ordinators, they'll often tell us passionately that in their school "SMSC is everywhere". Of course, they're right - after all they know what's happening in their school and they see evidence of SMSC every day. 

In most schools, SMSC - and let's not forget "British values" are delivered through a vast array of different lessons and extra-curricular activities.  We spoke with one headteacher last week who described three SMSC related activities in just one day.... a morning assembly to celebrate the opening of the Rugby World Cup,  a classroom debate about the current migrant crisis - and an after-school club where learners compose their own personal anthems. Does that scattering of subtle SMSC opportunities sound familiar to you?

So, in a broad and balanced curriculum - there's no shortage of opportunities to enhance a learner's spiritual, moral, social or cultural development. But, the question is... are you reaching all your learners with opportunities to develop all the values? This is where gap analysis comes in.

Gap Analysis - Start by imagining there were no gaps!

Let's start by thinking about the implications of the phrase "all learners". Obviously, we appreciate this means every single individual learner. But we have to be realistic. Implementing a method of mapping value-based learning against individuals is not practical in a school with hundreds of learners. For the majority of schools - the solution is to map learning opportunities against groups of learners. These groups might represent classes, forms, year groups, key stages - or any other specific grouping a school might already use.

So, if we imagine there were no gaps - this would mean a school is reaching "all groups of learners".

Note that we said this applies to the "majority" of schools. Interestingly, we've worked with a number of special schools and PRUs who have much smaller numbers of learners and staff in place who are already mapping learning opportunities to individuals. These schools have simply extended their current practice to include SMSC and British values.

Next, we move on to consider what we mean by "all the values". In an effort to keep things simple - we could settle for just the four S.M.S.C values - that would be Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural - and then perhaps add one more for British values. 

Many schools have suggested that this does not offer sufficient detail and can lead to a vague evaluation of what's actually being delivered. We might therefore suggest that the main SMSC values are be broken down further to include various aspects. For example, "cultural" development could include one aspect where learners investigate other cultures - but then another which involves participation and responding to cultural activities. That's two different aspects of development - both falling under the "cultural" heading. 

Here's an example list that takes into consideration Ofsted's viewpoint from 2004 to 2015.

  • Developing personal values and beliefs
  • Experiencing fascination, awe and wonder
  • Exploring the values and beliefs of others
  • Understanding human feelings and emotions
  • Using imagination and creativity in learning

  • Developing personal qualities and using social skills
  • Participating, cooperating and resolving conflicts
  • Understanding how communities and societies function

  • Developing and expressing personal views or values
  • Investigating moral values and ethical issues
  • Moral codes and models of moral virtue
  • Recognising right and wrong and applying it
  • Understanding the consequences of actions
  • Exploring, understanding and respecting cultural diversity
  • Participating and responding to cultural activities 
  • Preparing for life in modern Britain
  • Understanding and appreciating personal influence
[This article is in progress. Contact Daniel O'Brien / to be updated when it's finished.]