Oak Road, Southampton, Hampshire, SO32 1EP




Bishop's Waltham Junior School

Enjoy, Learn & Achieve Together

At Bishop’s Waltham Junior School the health, safety and well-being of every child is our top priority.

Religious Education

At Bishop's Waltham Junior School, we follow Hampshire County Council’s Agreed Syllabus:  Living Difference 111.

We also have an agreed policy for Collective Worship.


The status of religious education within the whole school curriculum
  • Section 352 of the Education Act 1996 identifies the distinctive place of religious education as part of the basic curriculum alongside the National Curriculum. Religious education is to have equal standing in relation to the core and foundation subjects within the school. It differs from the subjects of the National Curriculum only in that it is not subject to national prescription. It is a matter for the Agreed Syllabus Conferences to recommend locally prescribed procedures for the local authority (LA).
The Education Act 1996, School Standards and Framework Act 1998 and Education Act 2002 require that:
  • religious education should be taught to all children and young people other than those in nursery classes and except for those withdrawn at the wish of their parents. Teachers’ rights are safeguarded, should they wish to withdraw from the teaching of religious education
  • religious education in all community, foundation and voluntary controlled schools should be taught in accordance with an Agreed Syllabus
  • an Agreed Syllabus should reflect the fact that the religious traditions in Great Britain are in the main Christian, while taking account of the teachings and practices of the other principal religions in Great Britain
  • an Agreed Syllabus must not be designed to convert pupils, or to urge a particular religion or religious belief on pupils
  • an Agreed Syllabus Conference must be convened every five years to review the existing

Parental right to withdraw children from RE

A parent of a pupil at a maintained school can request that their child is wholly or partly excused from:

  • Receiving RE given in the school in accordance with the school’s basic curriculum
  • Attendance at religious worship in the school

The school must grant such requests.

The right of parents to withdraw their children from religious education (RE) lessons is set out in section 71(1) of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998, in paragraph 1.

What is Living Difference III?

Living Difference III is the Agreed Syllabus for religious education (RE) in Hampshire, Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight. It builds on an approach to religious education, enriched by philosophical and theological enquiry, as well as current research, used in Hampshire, Portsmouth and Southampton since 2004. Living Difference III is evidence of the ongoing, fruitful partnership between Hampshire, Portsmouth and Southampton, and now the Isle of Wight, in relation to religious education.

What are the special features of Living Difference III?

Living Difference III offers an educative approach to religious education emphasising a process of enquiry into concepts. Children and young people have the opportunity to respond from their own experience before being introduced to the way others appreciate things. Living Difference III gives young people the opportunity to evaluate; that is to make a judgement about why something is important for someone else as well as to discern what may be important for themselves. Living Difference III identifies three groups of concepts:

  • concepts common to all people
  • concepts shared by many religions
  • concepts distinctive to particular religions.

Concepts suitable for enquiry in religious education are included in the Agreed Syllabus.

The way concepts are understood in Living Difference III has been spelt out carefully.

Living Difference III acknowledges that what it means to live a life with a religious orientation can be conceptualised in at least three different ways: religion as belief, religion as tradition and religion as existential. Living Difference III aims to bring a new sensitivity to not only Abrahamic but also to the Dharmic traditions. Clear exemplar planning is included.

Age-related expectations (AREs) must inform planning, ensuring appropriate challenge in a particular cycle of enquiry, or sequence of cycles. Progress in religious education in Living Difference III is understood as being in relation to the skills in the particular knowledge context. Teachers can devise a curriculum from Living Difference III to suit their children or young people.

The enquiry process distinctive to Living Difference III

The process of enquiry has five steps: Communicate, Apply, Enquire, Contextualise and Evaluate. Each enquiry begins with the teacher inviting the children and/or young people into the enquiry by communicating the concept; bringing the child or young person to attend first to their own experience of the concept through an activity, before at Apply exploring their own responses in relation to others’ experience.

At Enquire, material that is new to the children and young people is introduced in varying complexity, children may also reflect collaboratively, for example in a community of philosophical enquiry, recognising that there are many different ways of looking at things.

At the Evaluate step children and young people are asked to weigh up their experience of the concept in two ways. First from the viewpoint of someone living a religious (or non-religious) life, as in the context studied. Secondly, the children and young people come to discern what may be of value from their own point of view. Questions to support the teacher in the enquiry process are included in Living Difference III.

BWJS Curriculum Overview (R.E)

The children usually study one unit of RE each half-term; these units are based around three of the major world religions. At Bishop's Waltham Junior School, we study Hinduism in Years 3 and 4, and Islam in Years 5 and 6, with Christianity being studied across all 4 years.

Year Three

Autumn Term Spring Term Summer Term
Making Choices Stories of Jesus God Talk
Angels in the Birth Narrative Key Events of the Easter Week Places of Worship

Year Four

Autumn Term Spring Term Summer Term
Baptism Holi Mahashivrati
Advent Ring Paschal Candle The Cycle of Life and Rebirth

Year Five

Autumn Term Spring Term Summer Term
Muhammad and his Life Sacred Books Prayer and Worship
The Magi The Crucifixion The Five Pillars of Islam

Year Six

Autumn Term Spring Term Summer Term
Creation The Christian Story Rites of Passage
The Birth Narratives The Empty Cross Images of Jesus