SMSC in Humanities

Humanities subjects are all heavily focussed on people and their relationships and as such we are well placed to contribute to students’ Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural education. In every lesson across the Faculty, students are expected either to consider the needs and experiences of others, or their own personal responses to events, problems and changes. Teachers in Humanities encourage students to discuss and debate controversy outside the classroom. At times this is in a formal setting like educational visits or homework, but also we expect the study of Humanities subjects to affect positively the way students live their daily lives. We encourage young people to enquire, consider and question in lessons and beyond.

  • Moral decisions by individuals, governments and societies are central to the study of the Holocaust or globalisation, for example, both topics that students consider in all three phases of their time in the Faculty.
  • There is an open and safe learning environment across the Faculty which allows students to express their views. An organised debate about the impact of the Blitz by GCSE History students generated strong opinions for both sides of the argument that brought about deep learning. 

Social issues and the needs of different groups of people are also common themes that are explicitly recognised on a regular basis, such as in the study of Energy and Waste in GCSE Geography or the experiences of women in Britain during the 19th and 20th centuries, covered firstly in Year 9 and then extended in GCSE History.          

Students’ ability to exercise leadership and demonstrate responsibility is promoted through team learning activities across the faculty. A Geography visit to Stratford to assess tourism saw Y11 Geographers engage with the the public to assess the impact of tourism.


Year 9 students, in playing a trading game, took on clearly defined roles and developed their knowledge and understanding of relationships between countries around the world.

Some of the key social concerns for modern Britain are developed in lessons. Year 12 Psychology students assess theories of attachment and how these can be applied in the 21st century. The Year 13 History curriculum demands an understanding of the British political system and students regularly compare the key issues and debates of the 19th and 20th centuries, such as education, public health and democracy, with our concerns today.

  • Spiritual development is encouraged regularly by providing pupils opportunities to appreciate intangible concepts. The idea of truth is central to all History lessons that use sources. Order and beauty, and differing interpretations of these, also form a part of GCSE and AS History when assessing Nazi government and propaganda.
  • Being inspired and awed by the world around us is also a key facet of the study of Geography, and one that is explicitly promoted through the study of Tectonics (Y10), Coasts (Y9) and World Cities (Y13).
  • A sense of empathy is consistently extended in lessons. History demands an understanding of others, such as that of women in WW1 during Years 9 and 11 and the experiences of different types of Americans in the first half of the 20th century. Studies of migration in year 9 and World Cities in Year 13 provide direct opportunities for Geographers at Arrow Vale to consider the experiences, feelings and respect for others.
  • Cultural appreciation and understanding is fundamental to learning in Humanities. Students are presented with authentic accounts of cultures as diverse as Sudan (Y9 Migration) Vietnam (GCSE History), Russia (Y12 Impact of War on Nazism), China (Y10 Population), Kenya and Brazil (Y9 Development) and Ireland (Y13 Political History).
  • The contribution of different cultures to human development and progress is also explored and studied, especially in the Year 11 unit covering the History of Medicine which considers the role of the Christian Church, the Muslim World and Ancient cultures had on the development of medicine and treatment.

We must turn to the humanities if we are to meet the need for meaning in an age of vast but pointless powers. Only the humanities can help us with the question of what living is for. - Stanley Fish

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