This is the executive summary of an investigation focused on the ‘SMSC’: the spiritual, moral, social, and cultural development of pupils. Enshrined in education law in the UK since 1944, inspected in England since the birth of Ofsted in 1992, and embedded in various forms through curricula and other levers across Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the duty of schools to promote SMSC has in some ways remained a constant in the face of ever-changing policies and reforms.
The investigation found that the requirement of schools to develop the broader human qualities of their pupils has become side-lined due to the overwhelming pressure placed on them to deliver better exam results. Concluding that despite schools’ legal commitment towards providing SMSC, too many schools took a ‘scattergun approach’ that risked provision being ‘everywhere and nowhere’. The report argues that despite an increase in school autonomy, deeper thinking about how to equip young people with the skills, attitudes, values and capabilities necessary to succeed in the modern world has been rendered far more difficult by the constantly changing terrain of policy initiatives.