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Spring Term

In case you missed our first mailing just before the end of term, here is an update to our Spring Term Newsletter this year. We hope you have been enjoying the Christmas break and if you are now turning your thoughts to planning your approach to SMSC for next term, we are here to help.

We are delighted to bring you two articles in this edition. W
e hear from our own Rachel Swaby. With her experience gained teaching in schools, then as a Schools Team Manager for our sister charity working in primary schools and now as a newly appointed Education Consultant, Rachel is able to write from a unique perspective about the important role SMSC plays in our schools.

Also in this edition, Jan Lever, Director of Discovery RE, writes thoughtfully about spiritual development, how it can possibly be assessed and what is that connection beyond words? 

The key dates and links for further information, intended to help us think about how we can approach the next term and further the spread of SMSC values, can be found beneath Rachel's article.

Please read on and enjoy this issue.

Kind regards
The SMSC News Team

PSHE - The Highlight of my Week!

Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural (SMSC) development is the overall umbrella that encompasses personal development across the whole curriculum. SMSC development aims to help our pupils by developing their core values as well as preparing them for life in modern Britain. Some of the key questions addressed are:

      Who am I?

      Who are we?

      Where do we live?

      How do we all live together?


The quality of our schools SMSC development is deemed a key part of the school’s overall effectiveness by Ofsted and is central to a school’s ethos. So how is this taught in schools? SMSC is weaved through many curriculum areas, but two key vehicles are through collective worship and PSHE lessons.

Teaching PSHE in school was always the highlight of my week. Pupils bustled into the classroom after lunchtime with an air of excitement and full of enthusiasm, looking forward with great anticipation to their weekly PSHE lesson. There aren’t any “clever” children in these lessons so all children feel they are on an equal footing. Pupil voice is greatly encouraged and is accessible to all as the topics are usually based on real life issues. The ground rules are always established at the beginning of the lesson, which helps to create a safe space for pupils to share their thoughts and ideas without the fear of being ridiculed by their peers for getting a ‘wrong’ answer. Furthermore, children know they always have the option to ‘pass’ if they weren’t quite ready to make a verbal contribution. After the ground rules had been established, lessons always began with a ‘Calm Me’ activity which allowed the children just to sit still for a minute (or until they could no longer hear the chime) and focus on their breathing and a calming picture (of their choice). The lesson then progressed (often in a circle) with a combination of songs, interactive games, group discussion and/or collaborative work. To mark the end of a lesson, each pupil completed an activity that encourages self-reflection. Finally a 'Calm Me' session would mark the end of the lesson. These mindfulness practices help to build children’s self-awareness and skill of reflection.


Watching the personal development in pupils over the school year,  as they become more resilient, grow in confidence, take more risks in learning and develop critical thinking skills are all outcomes of successful pupil development. PSHE is a very interesting lesson to teach as well as fun and creative but overall it is crucial in enabling children become the best versions of themselves they can be!
Rachel Swaby
Schools Team Manager, Spinnaker Trust Ltd

"We live in a diverse society - in fact, a diverse world - and we must learn to live in peace and with respect for each other."

Stan Lee

Dates and Helpful Links

5th: Epiphany/Twelfth Night    Further Resources   (Christian)
9th: Plough Monday (UK Custom)
25th: Robert Burns Day/Burns Night   (Tradition/Scottish/Poetry)
27th January: Holocaust Memorial Day (Jewish)
30th: RNLI SOS Day   RNLI KS1 Resources   RNLI KS2 Resources  (Safety at Sea)

2nd: Candlemas   Assembly Resource  (Christian)
5th: Chinese New Year    Further Resources  (Chines Festival)

14th: Valentines Day 
20th World Day of Social Justice
21st: International Mother Language Day   Further information
25th Feb to 10th Mar: Fairtrade Fortnight

1st:  St David's Day   Teaching Resources (Welsh/Custom)  
5th March:  Shrove Tuesday    Further Resources
6th: Ash Wednesday & Lent    Further Resource 
6th March - 20th April  Lent   Assembly Resource
7th: World Book Day
8th  International Women's Day

11th: Commonwealth Day
17th St Patricks Day Resources
21st: Purim (Jewish)
21st: Holi    Further resource   (Hindu)
21st World Down Syndrome Day   Resource
22nd: World Water Day   Resources

31st:  Mothers Day
Spiritual Developmentbut where is the compassion and connection with that which is beyond words?
The Ofsted Inspection Framework places high importance on the effectiveness and impact of the school’s provision for spiritual development.

This sounds really hopeful to someone who strongly believes that ‘education’ is about far more than numeracy, literacy and information gathering, and that the precious years in school are also a time for children and young people to explore the many facets of who they are and what it means to be human amongst other humans.

If we believe that spirituality is innate to all human beings, and as I believe, a strong motivating force for good when allowed to surface, be recognised and valued, then thank goodness our education system is placing importance on this.

But what is spirituality? How do we define it, and how do we define it enough to measure the effectiveness of a school’s provision for it?

The Ofsted grade descriptors suggest spiritual development is shown by children’s:
  • ability to be reflective about their own beliefs and experiences (religious or otherwise) and how these inform their perspective on life etc
  • use of imagination and creativity
  • sense of enjoyment and fascination in learning about themselves, others and the world around them
Yes, but do these not miss the very essence of the spiritual dimension of human beings; that connection to something ‘greater than’, that some call ‘God’, others refer to as ‘the universe’, ‘spirit’, ‘life-force’ or the ‘numinous’, and some understand and ‘know’ but don’t try to find words to describe. Admittedly each of these labels will conjure a different definition and personal experience in the user, and all are trying to define with words that personal connection which is beyond words.
Children, I believe, understand this connection, have insight and personal experience of it in a very real and meaningful way, and can, if given the appropriate environment and opportunities, connect with their spiritual dimension quite naturally and readily.
Schools can do this and many do a wonderful job of it. But maybe it is best that Ofsted does not try to measure this very special and personal facet of our humanity.
Jan Lever
Director: Discovery RE
November 2018
Other useful for links for SMSC information
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