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An educational charity has stepped in to boost RE teaching after the government’s withdrawal of money. Culham St Gabriel’s, a leading trust supporting teachers of Religious Education in schools, is spearheading a campaign to help students train for RE teaching in 2013 by making them aware of the support they could receive. Working with other church trusts to strengthen the position of RE teaching has become more urgent following the government’s decision to withdraw training bursaries from RE in 2013-14, a decision which could have a serious effect on recruitment into the RE teaching profession.
Director of Culham St Gabriel’s, Dr Mark Chater, explained:
‘Teaching RE is a great profession with many profound personal and professional rewards. It is highly regrettable that the government has withdrawn the bursaries. We are working with other trusts to get a positive message out to anyone thinking of training for RE: the message is that you will be a valued member of the profession and you can apply for financial support to help with your training.’
The trust is working with other church college trusts and the Jerusalem Trust to make potential trainees aware of the support they could receive. For 2013-14, trainee RE teachers could be eligible to apply to one of the Church college trusts for a grant towards course expenses or living expenses. All trusts welcome applications from any trainee regardless of religion or belief. However, some trusts may favour trainees’ in particular geographical locations.
The statement from the trust adds:
‘We are very concerned about the downward impact of the bursary withdrawal on PGCE applications for 2013-14: and we are very determined to do what we can to encourage people to apply. Part of this strategy involves getting out a clear message that bursaries are available from the trusts and that candidates for PGCE are encouraged to apply. The list of trusts can be seen in www.cstg.org.uk/acct.’
The trusts will consider applications from people who are training to teach RE starting in September 2013. The exact size of grants awarded will vary from trust to trust.
Mark Chater added:
‘Our purpose in this campaign is to engender confidence in RE as a career choice and to make it easier for RE to attract trainees of the right quality. We welcome applications and the door is open now.’
Mike Castelli, Chair of the Association of Lecturers in Religion and Education, welcomed this support for RE at a time when RE is under pressure within schools and across universities:
‘Since 2010 the government has reduced PGCE training places for RE from 675 to 321, resulting in the closure of six university PGCE RE courses with a threat of further closures this year. The abolition of the RE bursary for 2013-14 is a further blow. But this generous support from the trusts will not only encourage those students wishing to undertake a PGCE but is also a vote of confidence in the work of PGCE RE tutors and their colleagues across the country, and is most welcome.’