At Thomas Jones children are taught about the key world religions and non-faith beliefs and humanism through a concept based, enquiry led curriculum. They learn about the idea of what living a religious life entails. They learn about what a non-religious life looks like too and also that some individuals have a religious belief but may not live a religious life. It is also important for children to understand that individuals following the same religion may lead different religious lives. At Thomas Jones we aim to challenge stereotypes and afford opportunities for children to explore a wide range of scenarios.

At Thomas Jones RE lessons are always taught, where possible, by the children’s class teacher: the person who knows the children and their individual situations best and has perhaps the closest relationship with them. With lessons taught by the class teacher this also affords opportunities to re-visit children’s learning at other moments. Teaching is sensitive to the backgrounds of the children and they and their contributions to all lessons are treated with respect

Through our RE teaching religious and non-religious beliefs are not judged but explored in light of their impact on individuals or groups who hold them. The variability and variety of beliefs between and within traditions is acknowledged and teachers endeavour to ensure a fair and accurate representation of religious and non-religious beliefs drawing on sound scholarship and a range of voices. Teachers will ensure the children themselves are able to voice their own experiences alongside utilising members of the local community.

Coverage of Religions at Thomas Jones


Christianity, Islam and Hinduism

Years 1 and 2

Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Humanism

Years 3 and 4

Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Humanism

Years 5 and 6

Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Humanism


The Enquiry Process

Religious Education through Living Difference III follows an enquiry based process. Each unit follows an enquiry question into a specific concept. All overarching enquiry questions contain ambiguity in order to elicit children’s understanding and personal experiences and to allow for the children to lead the enquiry themselves exploring the concept through this question. The children are at the centre of the enquiry process of learning.

Each cycle of enquiry is related to one concept and takes approximately six to eight hours.

Questions include challenging questions, for example, about meaning and purpose in life, beliefs about God, issues of right and wrong and what it means to be human.


The process of enquiry has five steps: Communicate, Apply, Enquire, Contextualise and Evaluate.

  1. Communicate

Each enquiry begins with the teacher inviting the children into the enquiry by communicating the concept to them. The teacher brings the children to attend first to their own experience of the concept through an activity. The teacher then facilitates for the children to explore and apply their own responses.

  1. Apply

At Apply, children and young people become even more aware of others’ responses and might give examples from their own experience of the concept in different situations. The enquiry has now moved on because children have come to see challenges and complexities existing in the range of experiences and different situations. However, the enquiry is in general still working with ideas familiar to those in the class.

  1. Enquire

At Enquire, material that is new to the children is introduced in varying complexity for the children to enquire into. Children may also reflect collaboratively recognising that there are many different ways at looking at things.

  1. Contextualise

At Contextualise, children examine the concept in specific context, for example through investigating the activities of a local religious community, Christian, Muslim, Sikh, etc. A non-religious context should also be explored if the enquiry lends itself to this and it enhances the enquiry

An effective Contextualise step allows children’s enquiry to deepen intellectually with increasing openness to the plurality of ways it is possible to be religious. The context may be, for example, a religious story, a case study, news article, artefact, visit, visitor, video or dramatic scenario, but always a real situation which raises issues and invites questions. Children and young people will be able to appreciate further viewpoints and see how people’s lives are changed by their experience of the concept.

  1. Evaluate

At the evaluate step children 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, to discern what may be of value from their own point of view. The evaluate stage should involve collaboration and dialogue with children considering different answers to those from their own evaluation.


The enquiry process ensures teachers first bring children to attend to their own experience and that of others, to then engage intellectually with material that is new and to discern with others what is valuable with regard to living a religious life or one informed by a non-religious life or other perspective.

The enquiry process usually begins at Communicate however it can sometimes be best to begin the cycle at Enquire when:

  • the concept is beyond the experience of most of the children
  • the concept is particularly complex

It is important that greater time is given to the Communicate and Apply step of the cycle of enquiry in the Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1. Time spent at both the Enquire and Contextualise steps will gradually increase as children move to the upper primary years, where no less than two hours should be spent on the Contextualise step before spending time on the Evaluate step.

Questioning to support the enquiry process

Children and young people’s questions are highly significant in this enquiry approach regarding their own and others’ experiences. Children should be encouraged to ask questions about the matters being explored, developing the skills of enquiry together with their peers. Teacher’s questions will bring children and young people to attend in different ways, to engage intellectually, as well as encouraging careful thinking, speaking and acting. Overarching enquiry questions will guide individual cycles of enquiry.

Examples of questions teachers may ask at each stage of the cycle to advance dispositions and skills of enquiry in religious education:

Enquiry Step

Examples of questions the teacher may pose:

Children will increasingly be able to:


What do we notice?


What do you see here?


Can you/we draw/paint/make what you/we see here?

Describe and put their experience into words or put what they notice into colour or line or installation.


Do this in different ways alone and with others


Has anyone else had an experience of …?


Do we see things the same way?


Do you think everyone thinks/feels/sees this?


Is this always a good thing?


What would it be like if no one experienced this?


Can you think of a situation when this may be difficult?

Can you give a reason and an example to support your ideas?


Do we need to find out more?

Identify issues raised in applying their responses to specific situations.


Recognise there are ways of life which may be different to their own.


Express how their responses may apply in other situations.


Recognise and dialogue with others about some of the shared concerns involved in living a human life.


Give reasons for their points of view regarding their own and others’ experience and responses, and be able to make judgements discerning good from bad reasons.


Be open minded and interested to find out more.


What’s the main idea here?


What could we say counts as …?


What do we mean by …?


Do we have any questions about this idea?


What can we infer from this?


Why might other people see this idea in this way?


How might a religious person (particular example) make sense of this in their lives (Yr 5/6)?

Recognise key ideas/concepts.


Create a working definition of the concept and frame questions.


Form explanations and suggest possible inferences.


Recognise that, and identify how, the concept may be used by or become meaningful for people living a religious life.


Be interested to enquire with others – sometimes theologically or philosophically – into other long-standing positions on or accounts or explanations of the idea/concept.


Are there any questions about this?


How does this context help us to understand or think more about the big idea/concept?


How might a (religious) person such as … (give particular example) make sense of this in their lives (context as appropriate)?


 In what ways might this context have influenced things?


Do you think this would always be the case?


Does everyone agree?

Frame their own questions recognising there is more than one answer.


Explore a range of interpretation of concepts in a real-life context.


Recognise that differing religious and social contexts influence interpretations, sometimes raising controversial issues that demand further engagement.


Express and communicate their understanding of why context influences interpretation of a concept.


Build capacity to compare different interpretations of concepts by finding out about and giving more examples.


What do you think about all we’ve explored in this enquiry?


Why might … be important for … ?


Do you think all … would think/feel the same way?


Can you give reasons for your position on this?


What difference does that make?


How might that help us think more carefully about these things?


Could there be any value in this for someone who was not a …?


What do you think about this?


Are there any alternative views?


Could there be any value in this for you/me/ us?


Are there any remaining questions?

Discern value for themselves and others regarding the matters explored in the enquiry.


Show sensitivity to interpretations of the concept in the context.


Form a judgement about the significance of the concept from within the given context and also without.


Clarify reasons behind different judgements recognising the characteristics which make a difference.


Discern for themselves the possible significance of the concept, as well as for someone who is or who is not living in that way of life.


Recognise and express the value the concept has beyond the context.



The Living Difference III approach is a process of enquiry into concepts, where a concept is understood as a name for, or way of referring to, an idea that exists or has the possibility of existing in a particular kind of way under particular conditions; for example compassion, hope, community or justice.

Each cycle of enquiry relates to one concept and takes approximately six to eight hours, preferably explored in a blocked unit of time. Over a key stage, cycles of enquiry will build one on another enabling children to form a connected view of a particular tradition.

At Thomas Jones the concepts that children explore through their Religious Education curriculum are divided into three groups:

A Concepts: Common to All People

(For example, remembering, specialness, celebration, rights etc.)

B Concepts: Shared by Many Religions

(For example, God, worship, symbolism, the sacred, discipleship etc.)

C Concepts: Distinctive to Particular Religions or Non-Religious Traditions

(For example, dukka, Trinity, tawheed, Khalsa, Torah, redemption etc.)

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 a belief, religion as tradition and religion as existential.

Concepts Explored at Thomas Jones

A Concepts

B Concepts

C Concepts


·       Special (Who)

·       Celebration

·       Symbol of New Life

·       Remembering

·       Special (Clothes)

·       Change


Years 1 and 2

·       Celebrate

·       Special (texts)

·       Sad and Happy

·       Looking Forward

·       Authority

·       Remembering

·       Belonging


·       Creation

·       Belief

·       God

·       Sacred Places

Years 3 and 4

·       Light as a Symbol

·       Messages

·       Peace

·       Justice

·       Neighbour


·       Belief

·       Ceremony (death)

·       Ritual

·       Faith

·       The 5 Pillars of Islam

·       Dukkha (suffering)

Years 5 and 6

·       Sacrifice

·       A Good Life

·       Forgiveness

·       Interpretation

·       Power


·       Ritual (prayer)

·       The 5 Ks

·       Incarnation

·       Rites of Passage (Hajj)

·       Sikh Virtues

·       Enlightenment

·       Avatar


In Reception and Key Stage 1, children will first have opportunities to respond to their experience of Group A concepts. It is expected that as children and young people move through primary school, over time they will have opportunities to engage with all three groups of concepts.


The early learning goals in the EYFS aim to guide a child in making sense of their world and their community by exploring, observing, and finding out about people, places, technology and the environment. Enquiry and exploration are central to all aspects of the EYFS. Much of this learning takes place through play and discussion and through the sharing of carefully selected literature and the development of children’s speaking and listening capacity. 

Through the specific area of learning, ‘Understanding the World’, children are supported to: 

  • Know some similarities and differences between different religious and cultural communities in this country,, drawing on their experiences and what has been read in class. 

There is a legal requirement to teach religious education to Reception class children within the Foundation Stage according to the locally Agreed Syllabus (Education Reform Act 1988). 

Each unit of work for RE in the Reception class is an enquiry into the children’s experience of a concept and link strongly to the EYFS characteristics of learning. Concepts selected for the Reception class provide a basis to the development of understanding in Key Stage 1 and are readily accessible in the context of the children’s own experiences. There are always additional opportunities for children to explore concepts further during child-initiated learning times. Through children’s learning experiences in R.E., they are given the foundations to make a smooth transition to Key Stage 1 and 2 R.E. learning. 

Key Stage 1

Children in Key Stage 1 continue to explore and reflect on their own way of life and feelings about this and also continue developing an understanding of religious and non-religious ways of living. They continue to be encouraged to ask questions and recognise that different people may respond in different ways to their questions.

Children are encouraged to explore and share their own experiences of the concepts studied. In this way, as a cohort, they will begin to attend to other people’s experiences of concepts found in religious and non-religious ways of life.

At this key stage the enquiry into what it means to live a religious and non-religious life is concerned with enquiring into concepts common to all people (A concepts), where children will engage within their own experience. These concepts are also evident in religious ways of life, for example happy, sad, remembering and thanking. Towards the end of the key stage children begin to explore concepts that are shared across many faith narratives (B concepts).

Children are introduced to terms specific to religions (eg Shabbat) but the focus for enquiry into concepts is rooted in in their own experience (for example, celebrating is the focus concept but Shabbat is a Jewish example of this).

Key Stage 2

During Key Stage 2 children develop their dispositions and skills for enquiry further, which enables them to have a more mature understanding of different religious traditions. They are able to identify and make their own responses to some of the issues that arise in their own and others’ experience with regard to living a religious or non-religious life. As they develop through Key Stage 2 they are encouraged to develop their ability to ask and pursue more perceptive and complex questions.

As Key Stage 2 progresses, children usually have a broader range of experiences to draw on for their enquiries. They will continue to engage with concepts that are common to all people (A concepts) (although these enquiries will usually become more complex and sophisticated in terms of engagement with the concept from the perspective of a religious or non-religious person outside their experience), as well as investigate concepts that are shared by many faith narratives (B concepts). Through their enquiries children will also encounter concepts distinctive of particular religions (C concepts).

Teaching time

At Thomas Jones, teachers are afforded the flexibility to determine whether RE is taught weekly or in blocks. Flexibility is afforded to allow teachers to determine the most appropriate system for teaching RE to their class. This will depend upon the concept being studied and the most appropriate timings for lessons for each cohort.

The recommended teaching time for year groups is:

Reception- 36 hours per year

KS1- 36 hours per year

KS2- 45 hours per year

Our RE teaching time is separate from time allocated to Collective Worship at Thomas Jones.



At Thomas Jones we strive to include all children in all learning alongside their peers with additional support and differentiation planned for as required. As RE at Thomas Jones is an enquiry led approach: beginning with what a specific concept means to the individual and the children's own experiences, many children with SEND are able to access the full learning alongside their peers with some differentiation. Due to the dialogic nature of the enquiry based approach many children can be involved and included through discussion and questioning.

Teachers will always be sensitive to, and aware of, the distinctive needs of individual children with SEND and should feel free to use the material most appropriate to the educational and developmental needs of the children, as well as their interests. For some children with SEND, this will mean working at the threshold of religious awareness. In such cases, the emphasis is likely to be on sensory experiences, personal responses and interactions, as well as the development of a simple awareness of religion through the senses.

Teachers should also be aware that some children and young people with SEND may find certain areas of the cycle of enquiry particularly challenging. Their level of engagement may, therefore, be different at various stages of the cycle. For example, children and young people with social and/or communication needs may find it more difficult to engage with the Evaluate stage of the cycle. Teaching will be adapted for specific children’s needs as required.

Curriculum Map


Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4

Year 5

Year 6

Autumn 1

Special (Who)


Q: How do we celebrate people that are special to us?



Q: Why are celebrations important t us?



Q: What does the word ‘God’ mean to you and others?

The 5 Pillars of Islam


Q: Why are the 5 pillars important in Islam?



Q: Why are rituals important to someone living a religious life?



Q: What is the importance and relevance of sacrifice to Christians?



Q: How is forgiveness important in Judaism?

Autumn 2



Q: Why do Christians celebrate Jesus’ birth?


(Christianity and Hinduism

Q: What does creation mean to us?



Q: How is the authority of Jesus important to Christians?

Light as a Symbol


Q: How is the symbol of light important in Judaism?



Q: How is ritual important for the Hindu festival, Diwali?

A Good Life


Q: What does it mean to live a good life?



Q: How is interpretation  important to the birth story in Christianity?

Spring 1

Symbol of New Life


Q: Why do eggs symbolise new life?

Special (text)


Q: What special texts are important to ourselves and others?

Special (text)


Q: What special texts are important t ourselves and others?



Why are stories with messages important to Muslims and others?



Q: How important is peace to ourselves and others?

Ritual (Prayer)


Q: Why is the ritual of prayer important to Jewish people?

Sikh Virtues


Q: How are the Sikh Virtues important to Sikhs and others?

Spring 2

Remembering (Vishnu)


Q: Why is Vishnu remembered by Hindus?

Sad and Happy


Q: How do all people experience the feelings of happy and sad?



Q: Why is remembering important in the Jewish faith?



Q: Is belief important for Christians when looking at the Easter story?


(Christianity, Judaism and Islam)

Q: How can religions help to teach us about justice?

Symbol – the 5 K’s


Q: What are the 5 Ks central to Sikhism?


(Christianity and Islam)

Q: What is the value, for the believer, of God’s power?

Summer 1

Special (clothes)


Q: Why do we wear special clothes and what do they mean to us?



Q: What do Humanists believe in?

Sacred Places


Q: Do people need to visit sacred places to follow their religion?

Dukkha (suffering)


Q: Why is Dukkha (suffering) important to Buddhists?



Q: What makes a good neighbour?



Q: Why is the concept of incarnation important to Christians?



Q: How does enlightenment affect people’s lives?

Summer 2



Q: How does change affect our lives?

Looking Forward


Q: Why is looking forward important to ourselves and others?



Q: What is the importance of belonging to myself and others?

Ceremony (death)


Q: Why are ceremonies important to people?



Q: What does faith mean to different people?

Rites of passage


Q: How important are rites of passage to ourselves and others?



Q: Why do people believe in avatars?


Age related expectations inform planning and ensure there is good progress and achievement for all children across the key stages.

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