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What is SMSC?

Spiritual, moral, social and cultural development

Further definition of these terms is helpful because they are so important in a school’s work. In promoting an increased awareness of them, the quality of pupil responses are as important as the provision itself.

Spiritual Development

The growth of spiritual awareness is largely a personal matter but pupils' and students' spiritual awareness can be encouraged in RE by kindling the spark of ideas, or by helping them explore their emerging consciousness, spirit or inner-self.

The development of spirituality is about looking beyond the material world and developing a sense of self-worth, awe and wonder. Pupils and students should be encouraged to develop rational ideas, feelings and emotions about the key questions of life, death and their own experiences. In doing so, pupils and students need opportunities to think about the ways in which they respond to their family, social boundaries, their own experiences and the thoughts and ideas of others. This allows them to develop their own behaviour, attitudes and values.

Moral Development

Moral development encourages the growth of beliefs and relationships that demonstrate a respect for self, a respect for others and a responsibility for the ways in which society operates. While responding positively to codes of conduct and the norms and rules of society, pupils and students need to develop the capacity for bringing about change through taking moral decisions and making reasoned, moral judgements. In local, regional and global issues, human rights, personal duties and responsibilities should underpin the ethical dimension to solving real problems.

Social Development

Social development is closely related to pupils' and students' moral development. Social development relates to personal relationships within classrooms and beyond, to the development of co-operative skills through residential experiences and political education through economic and industrial understanding, careers, health education and environmental awareness. Personal development includes the development of the ability to respond to a variety of situations with appropriate and sensitive behaviour. In these situations, pupils and students should be encouraged to develop the skills of leadership, team work, initiative and co-operation. Through life-themes, pupils and students may develop their knowledge and understanding of social groupings, democratic processes and the ways in which social institutions operate.

Cultural Development

Pupils' and students' cultural development strengthens their understanding of the beliefs, values and customs that form the basis of our society. The values given to their responses to music, art, drama, dance, literature, poetry, science and technology, in addition to RE, contribute to cultural awareness. Cultures change and develop through time. Pupils and students need to learn about those aspects of times past which influence the present. They need to recognise the significance of the customs and beliefs of different groups within society. In addition, they need to be aware of the changing values, customs and traditions that shape their cultural heritage. In developing pupils' and students' cultural awareness, the influences of religious beliefs, ethnic background, heritage and aspirations need to be considered.

Contributed by John Pearce.

John Pearce has a proven record of providing high quality support for leaders in education and beyond. People who work with him say he is inspirational, practical and sensitive, with a great sense of humour and enthusiasm. Mostly, they warm to his integrity and ethics as he improves leadership and learning by:
  • clarifying vision and purpose
  • planning and evaluating for high impact
  • building the capacity of colleagues (to achieve sustainable development)
  • improving and celebrating what we provide for young people