Saturday, 30 January 2016

Spiritual, moral, social and cultural development (SMSC) in the early years

I've been thinking recently about what Ofsted might look for in schools' EYFS provision when considering children's spiritual, moral, social and cultural development (SMSC). The whole concept of SMSC can feel a little alien to the early years.


I found Kathryn Solly's recent article about the importance of awe and wonder in Nursery World [subscription required] gave a convincing account of the importance of "magical moments" in children's learning, which can be seen as another way of thinking about "spiritual development".

Overall, just as 4Children have helpfully shown that "Fundamental British Values" are already integral to the EYFS, I would argue similarly that SMSC runs through the EYFS like Brighton through a stick of rock candy. 

The following matrix represents one way of planning that out:




Ofsted will look for the following features in children’s  spiritual development
Links to the EYFS
ability to be reflective about their own beliefs, religious or otherwise, that inform their perspective on life and their interest in and respect for different people’s faiths, feelings and values
Understanding the World: People and Communities.
sense of enjoyment and fascination in learning about themselves, others and the world around them
Characteristics of Effective Learning: Active Learning
use of imagination and creativity in their learning
Expressive Arts and Design: Being imaginative
willingness to reflect on their experiences.
Characteristics of Effective Learning: Creating and Thinking Critically
Ofsted will look for the following features in children’s  moral development
 Links to the EYFS
ability to recognise the difference between right and wrong and to readily apply this understanding in their own lives, recognise legal boundaries and, in so doing, respect the civil and criminal law of England
Personal, social and emotional development: managing feelings and behaviour
understanding of the consequences of their behaviour and actions
Personal, social and emotional development: managing feelings and behaviour
interest in investigating and offering reasoned views about moral and ethical issues and ability to understand and appreciate the viewpoints of others on these issues.
Personal, social and emotional development: managing feelings and behaviour
Understanding the World: People and communities
Ofsted will look for the following features in children’s  social development
 Links to the EYFS
use of a range of social skills in different contexts, for example working and socialising with other pupils, including those from different religious, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds
Personal, social and emotional development: managing feelings and behaviour
Understanding the World: People and communities
willingness to participate in a variety of communities and social settings, including by volunteering, cooperating well with others and being able to resolve conflicts effectively
Personal, social and emotional development: making relationships

acceptance and engagement with the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs; they develop and demonstrate skills and attitudes that will allow them to participate fully in and contribute positively to life in modern Britain.
Understanding the World: People and communities
Ofsted will look for the following features in children’s  cultural development
 Links to the EYFS
understanding and appreciation of the wide range of cultural influences that have shaped their own heritage and those of others
Expressive arts and design: exploring and using media and materials
understanding and appreciation of the range of different cultures within school and further afield as an essential element of their preparation for life in modern Britain
Understanding the World: People and communities
knowledge of Britain’s democratic parliamentary system and its central role in shaping our history and values, and in continuing to develop Britain
This type of knowledge would be too abstract for the large majority of children in the EYFS but it is underpinned by early experiences in
Understanding the world: People and communities
Personal, social and emotional development: managing feelings and behaviour
willingness to participate in and respond positively to artistic, musical, sporting and cultural opportunities
Expressive arts and design: exploring and using media and materials
Physical development: moving and handling
interest in exploring, improving understanding of and showing respect for different faiths and cultural diversity and the extent to which they understand, accept, respect and celebrate diversity, as shown by their tolerance and attitudes towards different religious, ethnic and socio-economic groups in the local, national and global communities.
Understanding the world: People and communities