Our 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.
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Schools with Soul concludes that despite schools’ legal commitment towards providing spiritual, moral, social and cultural education (SMSC), too many schools took a ‘scattergun approach’ that risked provision being ‘everywhere and nowhere’.
Our 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.
1. Everyone involved in education in the UK should designate 2015-16 (the academic year after the next general election) as a "year of reflection” when:
No schools-related policies are announced by the Department for Education (DfE) or any other agency.
No schools are forced to become academies
No Ofsted inspections take place apart from re-inspections of those schools which have been judged inadequate.
No organisations publish any new policy proposals for schools
2. Ofsted should develop a more consistent and rigorous approach to the inspection of SMSC provision and outcomes.
3. The Department for Education should set up a small expert working party to develop clearer guidelines for SMSC in schools.
4. The National College for Teaching and Leadership should ensure that SMSC is more overtly built into any revisions made to the teachers’ standards.
5. School governing bodies should take full ownership of a school’s SMSC policy and where necessary, reshape a school’s overall purpose and ethos.
6. School leaders should consider:
Building SMSC development into reporting systems for parents and students
Building SMSC into teachers’ performance management systems
Using pupil premium funding to support the development of SMSC outcomes, linked to strategies for closing attainment gaps
7. Foundations and other funders should support the development of a simple SMSC ‘auditing tool’.