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The SMSC Quality Mark didn’t just recognise our strengths – it showed us how to develop them

Kelly Wall, SMSC Lead at National Church of England Academy, explores how the SMSC Quality Mark, verified by Young Citizens, helped to solidify their ongoing work for charity, wellbeing and social action.

 

At National Church of England Academy, our vision is to ensure that all members of our community experience ‘life in all its fullness’ (John 10:10) and live life through our six core values: achievement, charity, respect, humility, service and wisdom.

We strive to develop an understanding of these values, set within a Christian framework, so students may move on in life and contribute positively to the common good of the whole human community and its environment.

We believe our academy should be a place where:

  • Young people and adults alike are engaged in a joyful lifetime of learning;
  • Each person is uniquely valued;
  • The gifts, potential, and spirituality of everyone in our community are nurtured and developed;
  • The academy community is a welcoming place for those of all faiths and none.

 

Developing SMSC

Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural development (SMSC), including the promotion of British Values, is embedded throughout all aspects of academy life and at the heart of all we do.

We ensure that SMSC is tracked across the curriculum and regularly reviewed to ensure there is full coverage during a student’s time here.  We ensure our students have opportunities to engage in a variety of enrichment activities, such as extracurricular clubs, educational visits and social action.

We have links with The Kings Village Ghana, where our school community currently sponsor six students. We have also twinned our toilet blocks and support the local food bank. Students democratically choose a charity to support each year.  Every child is treated as an individual. Our inclusion faculty supports friendship skills and social understanding, enabling students to integrate and communicate effectively in the wider world.

We aim to prioritise staff and student wellbeing. For example, we have a staff wellbeing committee, offer both a listening and counselling service, engage in a peer education project, train mental first aiders and ensure all students regularly explore the topic of positive mental health.

 

Getting the Quality Mark

We decided to engage with the SMSC Award as we hoped it would acknowledge our strengths.  However, it did far more than this. The self-review tool allowed us to evaluate our provision against high standards, showing us how we could further develop SMSC across the school.

We were also given the opportunity to discuss our self-review with our verifier prior to the verification visit. This was a really supportive meeting that gave us practical advice from a current practitioner. As a result, to enhance the cultural development of our students, staff participated in a twilight looking at how they could tweak their existing classroom practice.

The twilight was prepared and delivered by Young Citizens. They ensured the session was bespoke to our needs, resulting in staff adapting their schemes of learning and lesson plans for the term ahead.

One teacher’s feedback was,

I will be focussing on the cultural and historical context of texts studied across KS3 and KS4, such as ‘Blue Remembered Hills’ and ‘Dear Nobody’, as well as a selection of poetry, images, art and song lyrics. I will be mindful of introducing students to a diverse and inclusive range of stimuli.”

The whole SMSC review process has supported us to develop and refine our existing practice.  The verification visit was a positive and affirming process that left us feeling encouraged and confident whilst giving us insightful suggestions for further development. We gained far more than just a gold kite mark.

Kelly wall is head of SMSC at National Church of England Academy in Hucknall. The school was recently independently reviewed and achieved Gold status during its SMSC Quality Mark verification.

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