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Chronic shortage of RE teachers in schools

RE teachers
Campaign aims to attract RE teachers to boost religious literacy and combat stereotypes

Pupils will fail to filter out the stereotypes that contribute to religious discrimination while a shortage of RE teachers remains, says the Religious Education Council of England and Wales (REC). The charity, which believes that high quality specialist teaching about all faiths, beliefs and worldviews is essential for all school children, is leading a consortium to relaunch the Beyond the Ordinary campaign, designed to attract career changers and graduates to train as RE teachers.

The REC is responding to a shortage of qualified RE teachers in schools and a need for greater incentives to attract new recruits:

  • For entry into initial teacher training in 2017, 405 places were filled[1], falling well below the Government target of 643. To reach that figure requires 1 in 20 graduates with a relevant degree to elect to train as a RE teacher.
  • According to the Government’s 2016 School Workforce Survey around half (55%) of staff teaching RE in schools have no post-A level qualification in the subject.
  • The REC is pressing the Department for Education for higher bursaries for RE teachers. Currently a first-class degree holder will receive £9,000 and an upper second-class degree holder will receive just £4,000 towards their training costs. By contrast training for similar specialist subjects such as Geography and Classics offers a grant of £26,000.
  • The charity is also calling for funding for Subject Knowledge Enhancement courses, which enable graduates with a wide variety of degrees to apply for RE teacher training.

School statistics show a generation keen to learn about the differences between faiths, beliefs and cultures in society. Over 60% of all 16-year olds take RE at GCSE and A level entries have more than doubled in the last 15 years.

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/663141/SFR68_2017_Text.pdf

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