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Living Difference III, the agreed RE syllabus

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.

Can I use Living Difference III?

Living Difference III is the legal document to be followed for the teaching of religious education in Hampshire, Portsmouth, Southampton and Isle of Wight schools. This Agreed Syllabus is the basis on which the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) will determine the effectiveness of the delivery of religious education in these areas. Converter academies, multi-academy trusts (MATs) and free schools in these areas are welcome to use this syllabus; it meets all legal requirements for religious education. Please note: MATs with any schools outside of these areas will need to apply for a licence to use it in their schools.

Living Difference III

Agreed syllabus  Download Adobe Reader to view this PDF 3MB (black and white)

Agreed syllabus  Download Adobe Reader to view this PDF 3MB (colour)


© Hampshire County Council/
Portsmouth City Council/
Southampton City Council/
Isle of Wight Council 2016