A look back at 2018

As we celebrate the arrival of 2019, it’s important that we reflect on some of the exemplary Spiritual, Moral, Social Cultural (SMSC) work we’ve witnessed in schools over the past year. As such I want to pay tribute to a few of the amazing schools who’ve displayed educational excellence in achieving the gold award of the National SMSC Quality Mark during 2018.

Since the launch of the Quality Mark in September 2017, hundreds of schools have utilised the SMSC Self Review Tool to shape and inform their provision to allow students to flourish. We’d like to congratulate all those schools that have achieved the gold award, as well as highlight a few of the SMSC verifiers as they share their experience with the Quality Mark

Kettering Buccleuch Academy (KBA), the first school in the county to be awarded gold, is an all through school to sixth form located in Kettering, Northamptonshire. Abbey Underwood, KBA’s SMSC Lead, spoke of her experience with the Quality Mark, saying:

SMSC is a way of life for us at KBA, and is part of our commitment to delivering an Education with Character for all our pupils. Receiving our SMSC Quality Mark Gold was a fantastic achievement for us, demonstrating that what we do, day in and day out towards promoting these values really is at the core of our school.”

Another school to receive the gold award in SMSC was Grove Street Primary. Their verifier, Janet Palmer, observes that “Pupils demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the UN rights of the child, and can identify the links between human rights and the ‘British’ values of respect, democracy and the rule of law, giving examples of how these are evident in their daily lives, particularly in school.”

Janet also commented that the pupils have a thirst for cultural understanding and are very welcoming of those from different backgrounds to their own. Reinforcing this observation, the former head of Grove Street Primary, Meg Marshal states:

“We were so proud to achieve the Young Citizens SMSC Gold Award. I am delighted that I can now contribute to the important task of ensuring children are able to become adults who can contribute to society as resilient characters.”

Dream, Aspire and Achieve

Later in 2018, Carlton Junior and Infant School in Yorkshire was awarded gold. Ruth Le Breton, verifier from Young Citizens, reported Carlton Junior and Infant School clearly places SMSC at the heart of the curriculum. Ruth was subsequently invited back to the school to share in a special assembly visit from Malala Yousafzai. Ruth commented, “This is what Gold SMSC learning looks like, and it was wonderful to see… all pupils should have the opportunity to be inspired by positive role models who show them what’s possible if they can ‘dream, aspire and achieve’.”

In the East of England, Lincroft Academy was the first middle school to be awarded gold. Their verifier Jayne Wright was delighted with how pupils are encouraged to 'take ownership of their SMSC development by leading on initiative'. She also reported on how the belief in the school was unwavering: complementing the staff’s dedication in encouraging students to ‘Dare to dream'.

As the SMSC Quality Mark is open to all educational phase settings, it was wonderful to see Parkside Academy, a secondary school in Durham, receive the gold award! Their verifier Sandra Saint stated, “It is abundantly clear that the school’s ethos ‘Your Child is Our Child’ prevails as it really is at the heart of every action that the school takes - from the strategic leadership decisions through to everyday interactions.”

Looking to the South East of England, Oakley School in Kent was the first SEN school to receive the SMSC gold award in October 2018. I was lucky enough to lead the verification and I would say it was one of the most special moments in my time leading the National SMSC Quality Mark. Oakley’s Executive Head, Gordon Tillman referred to their SMSC journey  as, "being an area where a light was shone, right through to SMSC being the beacon of light that now guides the way!"

Young Citizens are proud to lead on the truly National Quality Mark in SMSC that supports schools in providing young people with exceptional SMSC education. As we wait for the new Ofsted Framework to be finalised, the opinion among Head teachers appears to echo the thoughts of SMSC verifier Kerry Hill, who is also Head teacher at the SMSC gold awarded school Eyres Monsell Primary, Leicester. Kerry says: 

“I think the change to Ofsted 2019 will re-highlight the SMSC agenda, especially around moral and social - with the personal, social and behaviour descriptors being split, to ‘behaviour and attitudes’ and ‘personal development’. It will mean SMSC will become much more prominent.”

Discover how the National SMSC Quality Mark can help put your schools SMSC delivery on the map.