My name is Gemma Hathaway and I am an Assistant Head Teacher at Blue Coat C of E School in Coventry. We are a large secondary school with sixth form provision and currently serve over 1600 students. The school’s vision is based on the Bible verse found in John 10.10 ensuring all our students and staff ‘live life in all its fullness’. At the heart of the education provided here, are our CHRIST values (Care, Hard work, Respect, Integrity, Servanthood and Togetherness), which are inspired by Jesus’ example of a compassionate, courageous, wise and powerful life. Therefore, at Blue Coat, our mission is about preparing children for life, not just exams.

Martin Luther King Jr once said:

‘The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.'

As educators the change in the OFSTED framework has encouraged us to review and reflect on the aims and breadth of the experience we offer to our children during their time within the school system. Spiritual Moral Social Cultural (SMSC) provision and its direct link to ‘cultural capital’ has shifted priorities and enhanced the experience and opportunities available to our children. We must appreciate the importance of personal development and students need to be given the freedom to learn new skills and realise their talents. As a passionate advocate of the significance of SMSC, this new focus on cultural capital immediately fostered feelings of positivity within me as we strive to provide young people with access to the experiences and skills necessary to equip them for life.

The Church of England has a clear vision for education. It emphasises the importance of all children being given the opportunity to flourish and reach their God-given potential. This is lived out in four main elements: community, living well together, the importance of dignity, and respect. Along with OFSTED, a Church of England School will also be rigorously inspected through a SIAMS process. 

"SMSC development is championed at Blue Coat and we showcase a holistic education that prioritises and focuses on nurturing and nourishing our children. We want their lives to be enriched with understanding of their own identity, while celebrating diversity and embracing difference."

As adults we have a responsibility to model and promote socially responsible behaviour in the hope that our children develop the skills to achieve success and achieve fulfilment in their lives. Our aim is that our influence on our students goes past our school gates at the end of year 11 or 13 and promotes an ethos of providing them with a moral compass that stays with them as life-long learners. 

The SMSC Quality Mark helped make informed decisions

The Quality Mark's self-review tool - although daunting with its 90 pages - reminded me that this was not a one-person job. It encouraged me to seek support and collaborate with numerous staff and it generated powerful conversations that led to effective action points based on our own performance. It allowed me and the PSHE lead to realise that we needed to give students opportunities to discuss political concerns. As a result, we had a whole school mock general election in the lead up to the national election in 2019. It has also supported the writing of the SEF, which we produce for SIAMS with numerous overlaps and interweaving.

"One of the most powerful actions to come from the self-review was the departmental SMSC audit which allowed us to have clear understanding and map out SMSC delivery across the curriculum." 

The verification visit was incredibly positive and gave us the opportunity to showcase the school in all its fullness – including student and parent voice and a staff panel. It reminded me that we are all a team and have the same aims for the children in offering them a richness of life. The visit and report will be useful in reviewing the school priorities for the future and when considering curriculum priorities and areas for improvement. 

I would recommend this process to anyone that is seeking to engage with the changes within education. It allows for reflection on how everything we do - including all the decisions we make - should always have the child at the heart of them to give them every opportunity to experience the richness and diversity that our society has to offer. 

Gemma Hathaway

Assistant Head and SMSC Lead

Based in Coventry, The Blue Coat C of E School was a Ofsted rated 'Good' school in 2016, having improved provision across the board from its previous inspection in 2014. The headteacher, senior leaders and governors remain committed in their pursuit of high-quality teaching and learning for all pupils in this large secondary school. The school was awarded the National SMSC Quality Mark's 'Gold' status in January 2020.

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