Applying SMSC Education within an Outstanding Infant School

Assessing and reflecting on Wickford Church of England School’s SMSC delivery.

At Wickford Church of England School we believe our school motto: I am Powerful and Always More are the cornerstones of our vision, ethos and commitment to our school community. It extends to support pupils, staff, families and the wider community. It challenges everybody to become good citizens, proactively contributing to society.

Embedding Spiritual Moral Social and Cultural (SMSC) education was a pivotal part in the development of the HEARTS curriculum and at the centre of the school’s ethos of supporting children and creating a culture where curiosity is cultivated. Our curriculum and our staff actively encourage pupils to develop a sense of awe and wonder – inspiring a love of learning.

Our school has the responsibility to challenge our young pupils, giving them opportunities to celebrate and explore diversity. We offer them opportunities to develop their appreciation of the world by engaging with different cultures in both the UK and around the world, including a link with the charity Village Africa. Our curriculum is rich in diversity and texts are carefully chosen to reflect all communities. We promote positive self-image, esteem and confidence which helps our children to be respectful of others and enables them to make the right choices, build their social and emotional intelligence and establish skills to think creatively and critically.

The school has strong links with the church and other local charities; we encourage all children to be part of fundraising and celebrate the harvest big breakfast, raising money for our African links ambulance, staff skydiving for DIPG research and links with the local Royal British Legion.

Each year for Harvest we host a ‘big breakfast’ in school for all children and their families and we ask for donations of food for the event and for the local food banks to support those less fortunate living in our local community. This year, with the impact of COVID-19 we noticed an even higher demand on food banks and as a school we set up an onsite foodbank and delivered food parcels to families in need. This event raised the pupils’ understanding of responsibility and service – two of our school values.

During the national lockdowns we have ensured that our pupils continue to have a fullness of life and opportunities to take part in enriching experiences, whether they were learning at home or in school. The Reception class have taken a virtual trip to the farm, had ducklings in the classroom and a dinosaur visit for the day! Key Stage 1 held an Ernest Shackleton day and all children have had opportunities to enrich their wellbeing and mental health. We have trained mental health first-aiders in the school who lead wellbeing days and activities for children, staff and families.

Our school is fortunate to have a wonderful on-site catering team who provide nutritious hot meals for all children, and who run the gardening club. This allows children to see the process of growing food and experiencing ‘farming to fork’ in real life. Our children have ‘real life’ dining experiences using china plates, real cutlery and having glass cups – this encourages responsibility and raises children’s esteem. Our chef has produced a ‘Mrs Boswell Bakes’ cookbook, which we have sold to families to raise money for DIPG research and to share healthy meals with the school community. We are keen to promote healthy living and reduce the impact on the environment through our ethos and values.

Although we are only an infant school we aim for our pupils to leave us believing that they can change the world. We teach our pupils to always have a go and encourage them to make positives changes for themselves and others. We hope that by giving them role models and inspirations they will become the creative problem-solvers of the future.

Our Always More ethos is supported by visitors we arrange to visit the school, for example Olympic athlete Montel Douglas, Paralympian Sean Rose and author Chloe Inkpen.

At Wickford Church of England School we value children’s individuality and their unique personalities. We support all children to develop and grow learning habits for life.

We understand that the personal development of pupils’ values plays a significant part in their ability to learn and achieve, and that children’s experience and learning in their formative years will shape their future. We want to give all pupils the opportunity to experience activities and trips and thus the HEARTS Promise was born. The HEARTS Promise is a range of activities and trips that all children take part in during their time at the school. This includes a trip to the beach and farm, a visit to London, walking in a stream, jumping in puddles and rolling down a hill. These activities are enriching and give all children the opportunity to develop curiosity, independence, resilience and creativity within a supportive and safe environment. At the end of their time in the school, children are presented with a book of their experiences to keep as a memento.

During school assemblies children’s achievements are celebrated. We present them with Paddington certificates to celebrate when pupils achieve something that reflects our school values. We also value outside achievements of both children and staff and these are shared in weekly celebratory assemblies and displayed in the school hall. Children receive ‘postcards’ from the Heads of school for outstanding achievements, behaviour, manners and to recognise individual successes. Children are encouraged to support each other’s self-esteem, and they do so confidently in class and in the playground through actions and words.

As an infant school we encourage all our children to be role models and value their input into all aspects of our school. In house groups the Year 2 pupils are house captains and they have the responsibility of being play leaders and lunchtime servers. In assemblies children from each class take turns being servers – lighting the candle and leading songs and prayers. The worship committee, which is made up of 1 child from each class, is responsible for working with the RE lead to develop assemblies, plan church services and reflect on how we improve worship in the school. At lunchtime Year 2 children have the responsibility of being heads of table and they support the younger children, including the all-day pre-school children, with table manners and lunchtime routines.

Although our children are only aged 2-7 years old, we encourage them to be powerful and be proud of all that they can achieve. Our aim is for all children to be proud of themselves, their school, families and community.

As an outstanding church school (OFSTED and SIAMS) we want to continually challenge and improve the quality of education and the opportunities we provide to our pupils. The National SMSC Quality Mark audit tool provided us with a vehicle to do this. As staff it gave us the opportunity to work closely to celebrate what we do and to ask questions of ourselves. For us the SMSC Quality Mark Award is not a mere certificate to put on the wall or a Twitter feed, but a tool that allows us to measure what we do well and advise continued improvements.

As an SMSC Gold Award school we shall continue to work with our pupils and families to make our community a positive and enriching place. We are proud because this award recognises the part that everyone plays.

We want our children have a fun-filled life, which is enriched with great teaching and learning experiences.

Rebecca Tarplett is Acting Head of Wickford CofE School, in Essex. The school was recently independently reviewed and achieved Gold status during its SMSC Quality Mark verification.

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