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British Values

British Values & SMSC

(Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development, including the Promotion of Fundamental British Values.

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Defining SMSC

Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural development are all interlinked elements of personal growth. Each one has a distinctive meaning and they need to be understood separately in order to have a true understanding of the whole.

Provision for SMSC reaches far beyond any separate slot within the curriculum. In school SMSC development occurs through explicit teaching, such as in PSHE lessons and planned assembly themes, and more indirectly, for example through the communication of our school ethos, implementation of our behaviour policies, clubs and school events.

Promoting Fundamental British Values

The DfE have recently stated that schools should actively promote “the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.”

As a result of the promotion of British values, pupils are expected to develop:

  • An understanding of how citizens can influence decision-making through the democratic process;
  • An appreciation that living under the rule of law protects individual citizens and is essential for their wellbeing and safety;
  • An understanding that there is a separation of power between the executive and the judiciary, and that whilst some public bodies such as the police and the army can be held to account through Parliament, others such as the courts maintain independence;
  • An understanding that the freedom to choose and hold other faiths and beliefs is protected in law;
  • An acceptance that other people having different faiths and beliefs to oneself (or having none) should be accepted and tolerated, and should not be the cause of prejudicial or discriminatory behaviour.
  • An understanding of the importance of identifying and combatting discrimination.

At Berrymede, British Values are promoted through a variety of channels, such as:

  • Teaching within the curriculum
  • Planned assembly themes
  • The promotion of our school Vision and Ethos
  • The implementation of our school behaviour policy and inclusion policy
  • Use of rewards and sanctions
  • School Council/Eco Council
  • Extended curriculum e.g. trips, visitors and Enquiry based Learning
  • Responsibilities such as Play Leaders, Monitors, Cyber Mentors etc.
  • Celebration of work through displays, website, assembly
  • Provision of time for reflection and debate e.g. philosophy, circle-time

This list is not exhaustive.

Breaking down the elements of SMSC and considering the links with the promotion of British Values:

Spiritual Development.

We are providing opportunities for challenge and open-ended questioning in all planning. Time is planned (and sometimes unplanned) for children to pose and discuss the questions that they want to know the answers to – even when those questions may be challenging or difficult to definitively answer, this is done through the regular curriculum, PSHE and philosophy.

Moral development.

Moral development is usually associated with knowing the difference ‘between right and wrong’ and is linked with behaviour both in the social and educational context. Morality is rarely black and white, and we know that the moral code that children experience at home or with friends may vary quite significantly from the moral code that we provide for them at school.

We are a UNICEF Right Respecting School and focus on virtue ethics; positive virtues and attributes involved with being a good citizen of that society, such as respect, cooperation and honesty. As children practice making these decisions, based on their own, their family and their society’s expectations, backed by positive reinforcement, motivation to behave in a moral way will be developed. The examples set by adults are crucial to developing a meaningful moral code, since this is how children will see which virtues are positive and valued within the school setting.

In promoting British values it is expected that pupils understand that whilst different people may hold different views about what is right or wrong, all people living in England are subject to its law. The ethos and teaching at school should reflect and support the rule of English civil and criminal law.

Social development.

This refers to how children learn to interact with each other and with adults, in a variety of contexts, initially in small and familiar settings and increasingly in larger and less familiar situations. It is part of our core aims to enable children to develop self-knowledge, self-esteem and self-confidence.

Recognising other people’s feelings and beliefs – and understanding that these may be similar or different to one’s own – is an essential part of social development, but one which many children find difficult. Empathy is developed through regular formal and informal opportunities to practice responses through play, conversation, drama, sharing experiences and equipment, and working in teams.

We believe children need to learn how to critically challenge their own views and the views of others, and as educators, it is important that we develop resilient learners. The best learners will accept challenge and look for ways to overcome it. Part of our role in developing children socially is to provide the kinds of challenges that will ensure that they are not always right first time, we encourage our learners to accept responsibility for themselves and their learning and to understand how they can contribute positively to the lives of others in the school community and locality.

Cultural development

We use the word culture to refer to many different things, and there are at least three aspects to cultural development:

  • Identity. Helping children to understand the groups to which they belong, their associated beliefs and practices, and similarities and differences to other groups. ‘Who am I and where do I fit in?’ This is increasingly vital in a globalised world.
  • Art, music and literature. Introducing children to ‘the arts’ reminds us that teaching is not just about gathering information and acquiring skills, but is also about broadening and enriching the range of experiences.
  • Environment. The attributes of the setting in which we live and experience. As in ‘classroom culture’ or ‘Western culture’. As previously discussed, the school or classroom culture helps to provide a ‘moral order’ which is often lacking in the child’s world outside school. At the heart of school environments and cultures are the people in them and the relationships which they nurture.

The promotion of British values encourages tolerance and harmony between different cultural traditions by enabling students to appreciate and respect their own and others cultures. We address this in school through both educating our children and celebrating the range of cultures and traditions that are evident at Berrymede in lessons and through assemblies. We also provide numerous opportunities for our pupils to broaden their cultural horizons through trips, visitors, immersion in the arts via the curriculum. We aim always to reflect the range of cultures at our school in our planning, celebration and imagery.


DfE (2014) Promoting fundamental British values as part of SMSC in schools
DfE (2011) The Prevent Strategy 2011
Eaude, T (2011) Understanding Ofsted’s requirements for spiritual, moral, social and cultural development Middlesex, Forum Business Media
Ofsted (1995) Guidance on the inspection of Nursery and Primary Schools
Ofsted (2004) Promoting and evaluating pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development
Ofsted (2012) The evaluation schedule for the inspection of maintained schools and academies from January 2012

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