The Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural elements of school life.

SMSC in legislation

For schools operating within the maintained sector of education, the Education Reform Act of 1988 provides the legislative basis of SMSC, requiring schools to teach a broad and balanced curriculum which promotes 'the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school'. In OFSTED’s Inspection Guidance Papers of 2002 there is a helpful set of guidance notes on what spiritual development means in practice within the school context.

To see this guidance, go to the National Society (Church of England) website at This website contains helpful further information across the whole area of SMSC.

For schools operating in the independent sector of education, similar guidance is available in the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) Handbook for Inspection. To see this guidance, go to

SMSC in practice

Schools can see SMSC as a linking and unifying set of developmental priorities which undergird the subject curriculum and provide coherence and unity to the school’s curricular thinking. Instead of the educational menu being an ad hoc collection of subject studies, it can be seen as a coherent programme which is designed to contribute to the ‘the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school’.

To this extent, SMSC is not a curricular add-on, but a curricular unifier. It also acts as a link between conventional, legislative and cultural expectations for school performance and the values - led agenda that is of such significance in a Christian school. 

Advice on implementing SMSC policies (from an evangelical Christian standpoint) is available at SMSC On Line at