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Living Difference: The Agreed Syllabus for Hampshire, Portsmouth and Southampton 2011

November 21, 2015

LDHampshire has always had very gifted RE advisors so their Re syllabuses have been widely admitted. This particular syllabus will probably be the last of the huge documents now that government encourages ‘lean’syllabuses.

It follows a conceptual enquiry approach. The current advisor has also worked with the Philosophy 4 Children group.

There’s a page easily on that helps people to navigate the document.

Time allocation for RE is specified but I doubt that this can be legally binding. Many will ignore it anyway.

We get the usual 6 areas of enquiry.

The Every Child Matters agenda plus Community Cohesion are addressed (though the Tories abolished these before this syllabus was finalised – ditto citizenship). We also get quotations from the UN about the rights of children.

It sees three areas, through which to develop deepening of understanding:

  • concepts that are common to all human experience: for example, remembering, specialness, celebration, rights, duty, justice


  • concepts that are shared by many religions and are used in the study of religion: for example, God, worship, symbolism, the sacred, discipleship, stewardship, martyrdom


  • concepts that are specific to particular religions: for example, dukkha, Trinity, tawheed, redemption, khalsa, moksha, Torah


It then puts these into a hierarchy, which seems to many of us to be false and misleading. (And the pyramid diagrams will be impossible for the colour blind.)

At a time when most syllabuses had two attainment targets, this has one: ‘Interpret religion to human experience/existence’

The 8 level scale is used but is related to the enquiry model they pursue in this district, i.e. Enquire , Evaluate, Communicate, Apply

So that we know where we are, the pages for each religion include their specific symbols e.g. aum for Hinduism, menorah for Judaism.

The Sikh 5 Ks appear at key stage 1 – there was a time when we were teaching this at key Stage 3.

Trinity and incarnation appear as early as Key Stage 2.

Topics for secondary are too ‘religious’ and not enough ‘spiritual’ and won’t interest most pupils. Some argue that we shouldn’t be seeking to entertain kids but if we don’t spark their interest we won’t get very far.

Including RE in technical and vocational courses for 6th formers is an anachronism since these courses have largely been adandoned.

And want do you make of ‘Extended Projects students have chosen the following subject combinations: Archaeology and Religious Studies, looking at archaeological evidence for creation stories, and Biology and Religious Studies, looking at the ethics of breastfeeding.’?

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