Tracking and evaluating SMSC

Spiritual, Moral,  Social and Cultural (SMSC) tracking and evaluation.

The new Ofsted Framework 2012 has caused many to rethink SMSC.  John Pearce provides a simpler way through the sometimes overwhelming complexity of SMSC provision and offers guidance to both tracking and evaluate quality.  Look out for the red suggestion paragraphs where ideas to support your SMSC tracking and evaluation are offered.

If a school follows advice in this paper they will have a developing picture of SMSC provision and quality.  Staff will have a better understanding of their values and ethics, what they mean by SMSC, who is coordinating it and how it is impacting on student learning.  John argues that gathering evidence of what is being done, where and to what quality every day, every week, every term is neither justifiable nor doable. He advocates a sampling approach to tracking and evaluation which, over time, will provide an increasingly accurate picture of SMSC across school. 

Ofsted’s 6 key areas

SMSC is a critical aspect of education but all too often it is relegated into second place behind attainment and standards.  Indeed, the new Ofsted Framework describe four key judgements:  the achievement of pupils; the quality of teaching; behaviour and safety and the quality of leadership and management.  Then two more judgements are added: how well the school is promoting the pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development (SMSC) and the extent to which the education provided by the school meets the needs of all pupils, often referred to as Special Educational Needs including Disability (SEND).  So, six judgements it is and schools must be prepared to provide evidence of impact in each. 

WHAT? WHO? WHERE? HOW? and most of all WHY? SMSC?

I ask five questions when tracking and evaluating cross curricular themes and these certainly apply to SMSC.

1.      WHY are we teaching SMSC? The motivation, ethics and values of the school community.

2.      WHAT do we mean by SMSC? How are we defining it?

3.      WHO is responsible for SMSC?  How might they co-ordinate it?

4.      WHERE & WHEN is it provided? In what activities and experiences?

5.      HOW is it impacting on learning?  How do we evaluate it?

l want to show that, whilst many will focus on questions two to four, question 1 WHY provides a different, powerful and sustainable approach to oversight of SMSC provision.  I also want to show how Ofsted methodology can be used by in-school colleagues to greater effect than by inspectors because they are evaluating for improvement.  Let us take each question in turn:

1.      WHY are we teaching SMSC? The motivation, ethics and values of the school community.

I believe this question provides the silent underpinning of the other four and that, if we can harness, or reignite, the motivation and values of staff – the rest will follow. I’d go further… by looking at provision from the recipients’ perspective, the student view, or at least on their behalf we may be starting at the wrong end.  My expderience suggests that the very best teachers and schools know what their values are and these are manifest in their behaviours – constantly and reliably.  Therefore, if we want to build a spiritually, morally, socially and culturally successful school – we only need to appoint and nurture spiritually, morally, socially and culturally strong teaching and support staff and they will do the rest.   Of course, co-ordination is required, as are answers to the following four questions but I’d certainly argue that looking for good provision, without considering the values and ethics of the staff misses a first critical issue. 

So, I’d advocate starting any consideration of SMSC in a school by asking staff, at interview and appointment or, if already appointed, collectively at a staff meeting, or CPD event:  WHY? do you teach?  What are your core values?  What kind of citizens do we want to be part of educating? When I have done this with staff it enlivens and strengthen their planning.  It certainly forms a stronger starting point for the second question: WHAT do we mean by SMSC? How are we defining it?  Support materials and references to use in this area are legion.  My favourite documents to support a debate and discussion about what the school’s core values include:

The United Nations Convention on the rights of the child

The United Nations Declaration of human rights

Both of these are enshrined in law and are, arguably, the values and principles that should guide all education in the free world.  Further work in the area of staff development, related to ethics and moral purpose, are beyond the remit of this paper but I’d be happy to provide further information and support.  I have, for example drafted a “Pedagogical Oath” for educators, to mirror the “Hippocratic oath” taken by medical doctors.

2.      WHAT do we mean by SMSC? How are we defining it?

It is obviously important to understand what we mean by SMSC before we can innovate, track or evaluate it.  There are a number of definitions of and for SMSC.  I have listed some examples in APPENDIX ONE

Reading through each of these is helpful because there is a lot of common ground and it becomes obvious that the new Ofsted Framework 2012 has reduced the longer definitions into a more precise set of statements.  Nevertheless, the longer statements do offer a range of phrases and descriptors which illuminate what we mean by SMSC and are, in many cases, more familiar to colleagues.

A useful CPD activity at the WHAT do we mean by SMSC? stage is to circulate these definitions, together with the numerous others and discuss the meaning of SMSC education in school.  This can be considered alongside the outcomes from the WHY? questions, the school vision, aims and this will be likely to help colleagues approach questions 3,4 and 5 armed with a clearer understanding of what is meant by SMSC.

3. WHO is responsible for SMSC?  How might they track it?

This is a pragmatic question because s/he, will have a key part to play in helping colleagues answer the five questions. But this question contains the paradox of innovation, which goes like this… If someone has the responsibility, everyone else tends to leave it to them but if everyone is given the responsibility (as sometimes happens with cross curricular themes) there is a danger no-one does anything.  Consequently, my advice is: give someone the responsibility to ensure it is everyone’s responsibility!  This is the classic role of the SMSC Co-ordinator and there are well established lists of task related to such a role.  One set is included in APPENDIX TWO.

An important consideration at the WHO is responsible for SMSC? stage is whether the individual,  or team, have the necessary information, backing and skills to help their colleagues answer questions 3 and 4.  Time for CPD, reflection and coaching are likely to be important.

4.      WHERE & WHEN is it provided? In what activities and experiences?

Beware! Mapping cross-curricular themes can be a recipe for cumbersome and energy sapping, bureaucratic endeavours and tracking SMSC is just one example.   The role of a co-ordinator, temporary or permanent, is critical here, as is the strategy for mapping, or tracking SMSC.  Obvious WHERE questions are:  Is it explicit as a subject, or set of lessons, or is it embedded in many subjects, or areas of the curriculum?  The answers to these questions often leave the enquirer more confused because the answer will be something like, “SMSC is mainly found in RE, Social Education, Citizenship and also in parts, in other subjects.  It is also covered in assemblies and community cohesion work…”. This, inevitably, leads to the more troublesome question: can we identify when it is happening?  Some sort of mapping, or scoping is then proposed and before we know it the school is involved in a huge, ongoing audit.

At the WHERE & WHEN is it provided? stage it can be useful to separate the two aspects and do a limited mapping exercise in which all staff (using their new understanding developed in WHAT do we mean by SMSC?) identify those aspects they feel they are covering.  Here the SMSC Grid  has a really useful part to play because it captures both spread and coverage.  Staff can record  the occasions they cover SMSC together with a brief description.  This provides a snapshot of SMSC provision, enables the SMSC Co-coordinator, together with Senior Leaders, to evaluative issues of overlap, gaps and potential links and decide on focuses for evaluation.  Of course, the mapping exercise can be done on paper but the advantage of the SMSC on-line grid is that graphs and descriptions, reports and more sophisticated enquiries can be pulled from the original data. Unfortunately many schools stop at the WHERE & WHEN is it provided? stage , or (worse still?) they just continue collecting more and more evidence saying, “We can tell you where it is being taught – look we are doing it!”  This masks, or ignores, the most important question of all…

5.      HOW is it (what we do as SMSC)  impacting on learning?  How do we evaluate SMSC?

This has to be the most important question because only by answering this can we judge whether students are progressing in their SMSC learning.   There are some useful pointers about evidence gathering that might prove useful here.  The first, as in the previous question, is that sampling is often sufficient. Evidence collection does not have to be permanent and ongoing.  A school is setting too high a bar if it tries to collect evidence from SMSC at all times and in all situations. 

At the HOW is it impacting on learning? stage it is helpful to return to the definitions of SMSC and look at the range of skills, knowledge and understanding the school is expecting of students. Then a mixture of pre and post testing of selected criteria, at different times is helpful. Student and teacher voice and more qualitative measures such as examples of work in the community, referrals to Senior Team for incident of racist abuse, can be collated by the SMSC coordinator. Evidence of impact can come from colleagues recording impact in their SMSC grid submissions but all this will require careful co-ordination, a lot of extra effort and central collation but it will build up into a significant portfolio over time.


Here, I believe, we can share the view from Ofsted’s “Subsidiary Guidance – supporting the inspection of maintained schools and academies 2012” which suggests that Ofsted itself is not looking for complete evidence of all aspects of SMSC,

“All schools should be promoting pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) development and suitably preparing pupils for life. However, there is no need to present a detailed analysis in the report of the school’s promotion of each of the four components of pupils’ SMSC development.”

However, the older Ofsted guidance from 2004 provides some really useful examples of evidence inspectors gather.  Evidence can be gathered, using the same methods, by the SMSC Co-coordinator, together with colleagues, a member of senior team, or students. This may lead to reports, or presentations to staff about what is helping and hindering the school’s approach to SMSC. I have précised examples from this earlier guidance in APPENDIX THREE and offer it as guidance to in-school colleagues carrying out sampling evaluations of SMSC provision.

Evaluative activities described (with associated evidence) APPENDIX THREE include:

·        Head teacher interview

·        Learning walk around school – starting at the gate

·        School tour – led by senior member of staff

·        Review of  school documentation

·        Evidence from Lesson Observations

·        Evidence from an upper school assembly.

·        Evidence from student work scrutiny

·          Evidence from pupils’ written work in geography.

·        Evidence from incidents involving pupils from severe disabilities unit.

·        Evidence from interview with Year 7 pupils

Careful co-ordination of an evaluation activity, say each half term, will produce a powerful picture of the impact of SMSC provision and can lead to development activities for the colleagues.


If a school has follows the advice in this paper they should be able to create the wherewithal to create a developing picture of SMSC provision and quality, based on the five questions above.  Staff will have a better understanding of their own values and ethics, what they mean by SMSC, who is coordinating it and how it is impacting on student learning.  Whilst the sampling approach to tracking and evaluation will not be complete, in one go, it will, over time, provide a more complete picture.  The approach of gathering evidence of what is being done where and to what quality – every day, every week is just not sensible.

Finally, I am willing to work alongside schools, senior leaders and SMSC Co-ordinators to create an approach to fit each school and am happy to share ideas for CPD.  Anyone interested should feel free to contact me via email, via my website

John Pearce January 2012

Definitions of SMSC  From: Notts SACRE 1995[1], Ofsted 2004[2] , Ofsted 2012[3]

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.
Notts SACRE 1995

Spiritual development is the development of the non-material element of a

human being which animates and sustains us and, depending on our point of

view, either ends or continues in some form when we die. It is about the

development of a sense of identity, self-worth, personal insight, meaning and

purpose. It is about the development of a pupil’s ‘spirit’. Some people may call

it the development of a pupil’s ‘soul’; others as the development of

‘personality’ or ‘character’. Ofsted 2004


Pupils’ spiritual development is shown by their:

1.       beliefs, religious or otherwise, which inform their perspective on life and their interest in and respect for different people’s feelings and values

2.       sense of enjoyment and fascination in learning about themselves, others and the world around them, including the intangible

3.       use of imagination and creativity in their learning

4.       willingness to reflect on their experiences.  Ofsted 2012

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.
Notts SACRE 1995

Moral development is about the building, by pupils, of a framework of moral

values which regulates their personal behaviour. It is also about the

development of pupils’ understanding of society’s shared and agreed values. It is about understanding that there are issues where there is disagreement and it is also about understanding that society’s values change. Moral

development is about gaining an understanding of the range of views and the

reasons for the range. It is also about developing an opinion about the

different views. Ofsted 2004


Pupils’ moral development is shown by their:

5.       ability to recognise the difference between right and wrong and their readiness to apply this understanding in their own lives

6.       understanding of the consequences of their actions

7.       interest in investigating, and offering reasoned views about, moral and ethical issues.  Ofsted 2012

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.
Notts SACRE 1995

Social development is about young people working effectively with each other

and participating successfully in the community as a whole. It is about the

development of the skills and personal qualities necessary for living and

working together. It is about functioning effectively in a multi-racial, multicultural society. It involves growth in knowledge and understanding of society in all its aspects. This includes understanding people as well as understanding society’s institutions, structures and characteristics, economic and political principles and organisations, roles and responsibilities and life as a citizen, parent or worker in a community. It also involves the development of the interpersonal skills necessary for successful relationships. Ofsted 2004

Pupils’ social development is shown by their:

8.       use of a range of social skills in different contexts, including working and socialising with pupils from different religious, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds

9.       willingness to participate in a variety of social settings, cooperating well with others and being able to resolve conflicts effectively

10.   interest in, and understanding of, the way communities and societies function at a variety of levels.  Ofsted 2012

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.
Notts SACRE 1995


Cultural development is about pupils’ understanding their own culture and

other cultures in their town, region and in the country as a whole. It is about

understanding cultures represented in Europe and elsewhere in the world. It is

about understanding and feeling comfortable in a variety of cultures and being

able to operate in the emerging world culture of shared experiences provided

by television, travel and the internet. It is about understanding that cultures are always changing and coping with change. Promoting pupils’ cultural

development is intimately linked with schools’ attempts to value cultural

diversity and prevent racism. Ofsted 2004


Pupils’ cultural development is shown by their:

·       understanding and appreciation of the wide range of cultural influences that have shaped their own heritage

·       willingness to participate in, and respond to, for example, artistic, musical, sporting, mathematical, technological, scientific and cultural opportunities

·       interest in exploring, understanding of, and respect for cultural diversity and the extent to which they understand, accept, respect and celebrate diversity, as shown by their attitudes towards different religious, ethnic and socio-economic groups in the local, national and global communities.  Ofsted 2012.




Aspects of an SMSC Co-ordinator’s role:

1.       Contribute to the school’s SMSC policy, vision and development plan.

2.       Make an annual review and assess the SMSC provision against pre-defined indicators 

3.       Implement systems to monitor and keep track of SMSC across the whole school.

4.       Carry out an initial audit to identify current SMSC strengths and weaknesses.

5.       Deliver (or organise the delivery of) SMSC related INSET/CPD sessions and training.

6.       Identify advocates or champions who will accelerate SMSC development.

7.       Run whole-school assemblies to highlight the importance of SMSC.

8.       Help staff identify existing activities within their lessons which deliver SMSC values.

9.       Encourage staff to integrate SMSC into their own lesson plans and approaches.

10.   Manage any budget which might be allocated to SMSC and report on its spending.

11.   Involve the SMT and school governors in regular reviews of activity.

12.   Identify and attend conferences and seminars relating to SMSC.

13.   Organise school trips, excursions which incorporate SMSC development

14.   Arrange external visitors whose activities contribute to SMSC development

15.   Purchase, organise and disseminate SMSC resources to teaching staff.

16.   Work with organisations or individuals in the community who can help deliver SMSC.

17.   Liaise with co-ordinators from other schools to collaborate and share best practice.

18.   Develop cross-curricular projects which incorporate SMSC values.

19.   Write extracts for the school’s newsletter, blog or website which feature SMSC

20.   Engage with parents and carers through questionnaires, surveys or discussion

21.   Provide staff, parents and pupils with a mechanism for feedback or suggestions



Promoting and evaluating pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development

HMI 2125  March 2004   ref: HMI 2125


Part C: Gathering evidence and making judgements on pupils’ development


Extracts and notes:  remember I have extracted these notes as guidance for a school staff on evaluating SMSC provision and highlighted/added the  evaluation methods in red


John Pearce


Overall – the evidence to look for:  The starting point is how well the school provides an environment in which pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development can flourish. The climate and values of a school may be evident from the moment one enters it: whether it is welcoming…… Is there a drive for learning and respect for reflective responses? Other pointers will include:


·        the values projected by staff, governors and pupils

·        the relationships it encourages between pupils and staff and

between pupils

·        the way staff address pupils and vice versa

·        the way pupils address and care for each other

·        the way disputes and dissent are addressed

·        the quality of the physical environment

·        the range of opportunities provided by the school outside the

formal curriculum

·        the relationships developed by the school with the wider


·        the tone and content of material published by the school.


In addition, some activities will be consciously planned to contribute to pupils’ SMSC

development; for example, activities such as assemblies, acts of collective worship,

extra-curricular programmes and lessons in PSHE, citizenship, careers education

and guidance, sex and relationship education, and drug education. There will also be

important contributions from National Curriculum and other subjects.


The Ofsted guidance then uses a hypothetical school and provides examples showing a range of ways in which evidence may be recorded. Examples illustrate both pupils’ development and what the school provides through its teaching and other provision.  I have moved Example 10 to the top because it describes the original starting point and action of a new head teacher in mapping and scoping SMSC. 


Critically this enables the school to shows progress. The earlier measures are taken, at the start of an evaluation -  the easier it is to show progress.


Example Evaluation methods and evidence collected


Example 10: Head teacher interview


(Notes) Headteacher commented that, when he came to the school four years ago, there was underachievement generally. Pupils were undervalued by staff, governors, parents and the wider community, including the local press. Pupils also undervalued

themselves. Different backgrounds of pupils were acknowledged but they were neither celebrated nor valued: this applied as much to white pupils as to those from other heritages.


Headteacher began with audit of where different cultures and traditions were recognised in the school. This revealed a patchy picture – for example, in RE, different religions were studied but with little reference to the pupilsown beliefs and experiences. In contrast, in careers education and guidance, staff were well aware of what influenced pupilscareer choices and they had some good ways of challenging, in a sensitive and respectful way, certain attitudes and prejudices. Headteacher also realised that, in their everyday interactions with each other, the pupils knew far more about each other than the school had formally recognised – white pupils in a Year 8 class knew more about how their Muslim friends were going to celebrate Eid than was formally acknowledged by the school.


The audit also considered how the school raised self-esteem and mutual respect. It found that pupils from all heritage groups were achieving all sorts of things which could have been applauded but which were not recognised. This included

achievements in sport in clubs outside school, in places of worship and other community organisations, in part-time work, and in the family, such as caring for younger siblings.


A start was made by ensuring that main events affecting the different communities in the school were raised, explained and discussed in assemblies and tutor periods: for example, the opening of a new community centre on a socioeconomic ally deprived estate where a large number of white pupils lived. Another early change was to ensure more regular and more detailed reference in assemblies, tutor periods and elsewhere to the major festivals celebrated by the different ethnic and religious groups in the school. For example, Ramadan and its implications were fully explored, including the direct impact on those pupils who were fasting. Eid was formally celebrated, with all pupils being invited to join in thanksgiving prayers in assembly led by a Muslim governor.


Example 1: Learning walk around school – starting at the gate (Notes)

·        Approach to school is attractive via tarmac drive lined with

shrubs. Large rose bed in front of original building which houses

the administration and some classes. No obvious litter or graffiti;

shrubs etc well maintained. Playground and playing fields to

rear and side of school buildings look, from a distance, neat and


·        Sign on main building in different community languages indicates

direction of reception.

·        Pleasant reception area – recently refurbished after structural

changes. Two pupils (boy and girl, one white, one Asian, Year

9?) on duty in reception. They welcomed me and then girl

disappeared into office to report my arrival. Boy talked to me

politely and confidently while I waited.

·        Three boys (white/Asian/African or Caribbean, Year 10 or 11)

also waiting. They talked and laughed together sensibly and



Example 2: School tour – led by senior member of staff (Notes)

·        Headteacher walked with me round the school. Much recent (last

1–5 years) refurbishment. Redecoration of corridors –

headteacher said that old paint was dull and clinical; selective

(sensible) use of carpet.

·        Headteacher very proud of new labs, computer suites, hall and

refurbished toilets. The toilets are clean, pleasantly decorated

and not smelly.

·        Good use of display of pupilswork and other material including

pictures of community activities and visitors to the school (nb:

good racial mix in pictures serving as role models, for example

visit of Caribbean leader of the council).

·        Calm, purposeful atmosphere; heard no shouting. Pupils move

about the school calmly. Saw no running in corridors and little



Example 3: Review of  school documentation (Notes)

·        School has good documentation overall. Mission statement

emphasises helping children do their best, both academically

and socially. It also emphasises share, care and respectas key

features for governing relations between everybody in the


·        Interestingly, the school has policy documents relating directly to

SMSC development with schools own definitions of what each

means and how they can be encouraged. Each department has

to build SMSC-related aims into its planning and documents,

mirroring the approach in the National Curriculum

documentation. This is consistently well done. Also built in well

into planning in PSHE and citizenship.

·        Documentation suggests active pupil participation in decision making

via school council and activities in tutor groups and year



Example 4: Evidence from Lesson Observations (Notes)

Year 10 media studies lesson on understanding prejudice.

Teacher used newspaper photographs to explore prejudices/stereotyping. Useful

images used of a black youth, Sikh gentleman, Afghan lady, white football

supporters and gay man. Interesting that the pupils did not readily express negative views but could list many positive, possibly reflecting the fact that they are used to living in a multicultural society. Teacher skilfully questioned them, encouraging them to understand negative connotations but the lesson was well balanced. Pupils

spoken, and then written, responses showed that they had well understood the

subtleties of the lesson. Overall, this was good encouragement for pupilsSMSC development. The pupils learnt more about themselves and others; what motivates individuals; and moral perspectives behind attitudes. They also developed a better understanding of different cultures.


Example 5: Evidence from an upper school assembly. (Notes)

The assembly was introduced by a deputy head who explained, clearly, that the assembly was to be led by three Year 11 pupils who had just completed work experience, working with the homeless. Then followed a small group of pupils playing/singing (well) Streets of Londonand short, well-recounted accounts by each of the work experience pupils about their experiences. One showed some powerful pictures that she had taken of young homeless people. After this, the deputy asked all pupils to reflect quietly on, or pray about, the needs of the homeless and what should be done to help them. The assembly ended with another moving song, this time written by one of the pupils.



Example 6: Evidence from student work scrutiny (Notes)

End-of-unit written work focusing on relationships. Pupils had been asked to write

advice booklets on a theme of their choice for inclusion in the school library. All

were of good quality. Particular examples were booklets on Why mum wants a

new partnerwhich showed a sensitive understanding of the needs of someone

older; and How to treat your girlfriend, which was a sensitive and subtle

exploration of what a relationship means for a 15 year old. Some pupils wrote

advice booklets on what to do if you/your friend/ your girlfriend becomes pregnant

and there was another booklet entitled I hate my brother. What came across

particularly well was the encouragement to pupils to take account of their own

social and cultural backgrounds as well as the perspectives of others.


Example 7: Evidence from pupilswritten work in geography. (Notes)

Upper set. GCSE projects on Lake Nakuru area of Kenya. Good-quality work showing that pupils have a good understanding of the environmental challenges facing this area of Africa. This includes an understanding of moral issues – whether to develop? How? Advantages and disadvantages of development? Pupils very clear

that development brings improvements in income and services but that there are

significant environmental costs. Some interesting conclusions drawn.


Example 8: Evidence from incidents involving pupils from severe disabilities unit. (Notes)

At a changeover time between lessons, one of the more severely disabled pupils

was making her way down a crowded corridor in a wheelchair to her next lesson.

There were pupils all around, all making their way on foot to their next lessons. No

one was paying her much attention – certainly no more than they were paying to

any other pupil in the corridor. My initial reaction was to be upset by this and what

I saw as the callousness of the pupils. However, the disabled student survived the

corridor and the school quietened down. After reflection, and seeing more of the school, I decided I had misread the situation. In fact, I now think I was seeing something very positive taking place – the total acceptance by pupils of that pupil as a person to be treated just like

anyone else. This was well illustrated for me later when I saw an able-bodied boy

go up to another severely disabled boy. There then followed what was obviously a

good-natured interchange on the previous nights football match on the television.

It ended with the able-bodied boy grinning, punching the disabled boy in a friendly

way, rather harder than I would have liked, and he walked off leaving the disabled

boy with an equally broad smile on his face. I later saw the pair of them playing

snooker together in the community room with the able-bodied boy helping the

other to reach balls in the middle of the table and the disabled boy advising the

other on the quality of his shots. In another incident, one disabled girl tore a strip

of an able-bodied girl who promptly gave back as good as she got. There was no

deference or condescension on either part.


Example 9: Evidence from interview with Year 7 pupils. (Notes)

I spoke to a group of ten pupils in the playground at lunchtime. All said they liked

the school. They said that the teachers were friendly and helpful. They also said

that other pupils were friendly and supportive. They were clearly all aware of the

multi-cultural nature of the school and said this was a virtue. One said that it

makes the school more interesting. When I asked for examples of pupils being

supportive, one boy told me that he had just been swimming and, for the first time,

had managed to jump off the diving board. One of the girls explained that the boy

had been too frightened for weeks to do it but they had all helped him and they

were all very pleased. Another girl said that she found the mentoring by older

pupils very helpful. The pupils all went off and I later saw them (boys and girls)

playing football together.


Concluding notes – based on the evidence collected

Overall, the school provides rich experiences to support pupilsdevelopment but there is no formal monitoring of how well it is doing, which means that some opportunities are lost. For example, although many pupils are involved in the wider community in various ways, some are not. Provision and, therefore, development are uneven between pupils and some pupils may even slip through the net.


This conclusion by Ofsted indicates that the head teacher started well with an audit of provision but then had eased off monitoring SMSC effectiveness.  Monitoring is not easy but there needs to be a sensible and pragmatic system to ensure that the school is being as effective as possible and that time, effort and money are not being wasted.  


I am convinced that the same conclusions would have been arrived at, if the school had carried out the same evaluative activities as the inspectors. That is why this is a good set of methods for teachers to use themselves when evaluating SMSC provision.


John Pearce 2012


[1] Nottinghamshire RE Syllabus - Standing Advisory Council Religious Education (SACRE) 1995

[3] Ofsted Subsidiary Guidance issued to inspectors January 2012