SCHOOLS are sidelining education in personal values and cultural
understanding because of examination pressures and the need to
respond to new government initiatives, a new report from the Royal
Society of Arts (RSA) says.
The report Schools with Soul, published on Tuesday,
concludes that spiritual, moral, social, and cultural (SMSC)
education, a legally required aspect of the school curriculum, is
being increasingly neglected, particularly among the 14-plus age
group. It blames the neglect largely on a "constantly changing
terrain of policy initiatives".
The report pleads for a 12-month moratorium on new initiatives
during the academic year 2015-16, which should, the RSA says, be
designated "a year of reflection" to give schools time to refocus
on their core purpose and vision.
Schools have been obliged to nurture the spiritual, moral,
social, and cultural development of their pupils since the 1944
Education Act. SMSC is not a separate subject, however, but is
taught across the curriculum, mainly through the humanities and
creative arts, but also in maths and science lessons, which are
seen as important for developing broad cultural awareness.
The marginalisation of religious education, often perceived as
essential to SMSC, exacerbates the problem.
The report is largely based on in-depth discussions with head
teachers and staff at a range of schools, and teacher-trainers, and
through the detailed analysis of OFSTED reports. It argues that the
overcrowded syllabuses, and increased pressure on schools to
achieve better exam results, have pushed wider values to the
"Just at a time when SMSC may have most to contribute to both
formal attainment and to wider outcomes in and beyond the school,
it is losing prominence, and given neither space nor high value,"
the director of education at the RSA, Joe Hallgarten, said this
The RSA's investigation was backed by four charities, including
the RE research organisation Culham St Gabriel's Trust, whose
director, Dr Mark Chater, promised support for measures to
strengthen understanding of SMSC education.