SMSC: definition, requirements and best practice

Understand how spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) development is defined and what the statutory requirements are. Download our tool to audit your provision and see examples of best practice from other schools.

Last reviewed on 13 December 2023
School types: All · School phases: All
Ref: 48847
  1. What is SMSC?
  2. SMSC statutory requirements
  3. How is SMSC inspected?
  4. Audit your SMSC provision
  5. SMSC policies and action plans
  6. Best practice for SMSC

What is SMSC?

All schools are required to promote the spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) development of pupils across the curriculum. You can do this through specific lessons, for example linked to your personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) curriculum, or through your whole-school curriculum activities.

See paragraph 321 of the School Inspection Handbook.

SMSC statutory requirements

You're probably already meeting SMSC requirements through things such as your PSHE or whole-school curriculum. 

You’re required to:

  • Promote the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils
  • Prepare pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life

See paragraph 221 of the School Inspection Handbook, linked above.

How is SMSC inspected?

Under the Ofsted framework, inspectors will assess the effectiveness of SMSC provision and use this to inform their judgement for personal development.

Spiritual development Ability to be reflective about their own