As a new OFSTED inspection framework proposed for Autumn 2019 is released, it gives a good opportunity to see where SMSC fits within it and the new expectations being placed on schools.
Amanda Spielman (HMI Chief Inspector) recently stated that:
“Education is not just about the gaining of knowledge and the acquisition of skills but the basic aim of our schools is to aid the personal development of all our students in the fullest sense.”
This clearly acknowledges that central to education should be the development of personal, social and emotional attributes, to support the whole child, thereby enabling them to academically flourish.
The proposed 2019 OFSTED framework promotes and elevates the prominence of SMSC. The separation of the current Behaviour and Welfare criteria into Behaviour and Attitudes and Personal Development, signifies a greater focus on these areas. On the whole this split may be a welcomed change, separating behaviour attitudes from discipline and seeing a critical role of schools to develop children in a wider sense so that they are healthy, active and engaged citizens.
We also see new vocabulary coming in to the framework such as pupils’ being “committed to their learning, know how to study effectively” and that they “are resilient to setbacks and take pride in their achievements”.
This clearly establishes an expectation on schools to be providing a rich, broad and engaging curriculum, from which children develop skills which are intrinsic to life-long learning and transferrable across all aspects of learning, social interaction and personal development.
SMSC is the golden thread
This focus on developing children’s characters and life skills has been a focus of our own SMSC curriculum for the past two years, where we try to enable children to become responsible, independent and invested citizens in the world that they will grow up in. SMSC (and in particular mindfulness and mental health), is the golden thread that weaves through our school culture. We believe that personal, social and emotional skills are vital to children, if they are going to reach their potential academically and more importantly, as adults of an ever-changing future.
As education practitioners, it is increasingly falling to us to educate children in the widest of senses, providing them with the essential building blocks for life-long learning so that they can focus, concentrate, interact with others, regulate their emotions, build resilience and cope with the challenges of modern life. This is also the purpose of a diverse and engaging SMSC curriculum.
The SMSC award recognises that for children to thrive, we must provide them with the capacity to learn more and more about themselves and the world around them – encouraging schools to look beyond the academic text books and support personal growth, understanding and awareness.
As a Gold SMSC award school, undertaking the kitemark allowed us to reflect on our practice, celebrate our strengths and identify where we can continue to develop, so we maximise the chances and opportunities that we provide our pupils to nurture their skills and talents in every sense.
At this time of change to a new OFSTED framework, the SMSC Quality Mark is an effective school evaluation and improvement tool to ensure that we are aiding “the personal development of all our students in the fullest sense.”