The SMSC Quality Mark ‘verification plus’ offer gives teachers confidence

My name is Naomi Parkhill and I am the Senior Teacher (Pastoral Care) at The Mulberry House School in North London. We are a co-ed, independent pre-prep school with children aged 2-7 years old. The school aims to develop each pupil’s love of learning. It seeks to provide pupils with a challenging education to enhance their emotional, intellectual and physical development and prepare them for the next stages of education.

I have been teaching here for 6 years and have been the leader for SMSC for 4 of these. In 2019, we decided to apply for the SMSC Quality Mark to use the self-review tool to improve and to receive recognition for our excellent provision in this area.

As an EYFS and KS1 school, our journey with The National SMSC Quality Mark has played a pivotal role in the transformation and development of this area within all stages of our school. This has had a knock-on effect on all areas of school life and children’s success both academically and personally.

The criteria in the schools’ self-review tool enabled me to breakdown SMSC provision into different areas. I found it incredibly easy to follow and enjoyed the confidence it gave me in the excellence we already have in this area. In addition to this, it provided me with specific insights into the areas that we wished to improve. Without this tool, I would have been a bit lost in this journey. Having it all in one place, and with the support of the amazing team at Young Citizens, the entire process was made enjoyable.

One example of how the self-review tool led us to making a change was in the development of our website. Although we were confident in our practice, through using Standard 1: Effectiveness of Leadership and Management we were able to ensure that we highlighted what SMSC means to The Mulberry House School. More specifically, as the lead for SMSC, I found Standard 2: Teaching, Learning and the Curriculum vital in shaping the training and development that I gave to staff within these areas in order to ensure that we met the same level within this area as the rest of the framework.

After completing the self-review tool, schools can go for independent verification by a specialist from Young Citizens. Schools can also opt to choose the verification plus route, which involves having an 1-to-1 consultation session in school with the verifier a few months’ before your actual verification day. This was the pathway we chose and it was definitely the best decision for us.

‘Having the opportunity to meet our assessor and talk through the framework enabled me, as the SMSC leader, to gain more confidence in how successful I have been in using the framework and to ensure a strong whole-school approach in this area.’

It also provided me with a clearer insight into the different aspects of the self-review tool along with a better understanding of what exactly we were being asked to reflect on in each point.

As a school we are now looking forward to welcoming our lovely assessor back and believe the verification day will be a joy for all involved. Had we not chosen this route, as a team we would be feeling nervous going into such an important day on this fabulous journey.

I would definitely recommend the verification plus route to schools applying for the SMSC Quality Mark and cannot thank the team enough for their continued support throughout this process.

Naomi Parkhill

The Mulberry House School, London