Briefing: Campaign launched to solve RE teacher shortage

A campaign to attract a new generation of RE teachers has been launched by a number of Religious Education teaching organisations after applications plummeted by a third this year.

The reasons given were workload, pay and retention, alongside outdated perceptions that RE teachers must have a theology degree and/or a religious belief.

In a Religion Media Centre briefing, our panel explained how RE has changed from Christian instruction to an exploration of world views, helping young people move into a world where they have to navigate complex, challenging, and difficult issues. 

Young people and their parents are starting to value it more, but school systems haven’t caught up with the changes.

The “Beyond the Ordinary” campaign aims to attract graduates and others wanting a career change, and our briefing suggested university theology and religious studies departments have a key role in encouraging new recruits.

The shortage of qualified RE teachers means many lessons are delivered by teachers with no specialist training and this may be behind an increase in demand for local religious leaders to come into schools to explain their faith. The briefing heard of a project to consider rules of best practice, warning of the damage that can be done if the wrong kind of thing is said – all the more reason to ensure the provision of qualified RE teachers.

Our panel was: Dr Kathryn Wright, Chief executive, Culham St Gabriel’s Trust; Dr Tim Hutchings, Assistant Professor in Religious Ethics at the University of Nottingham; Heather Williams, associate tutor in Religious Education at Edge Hill University, Liverpool; and Catherine Hughes, chair of SACRE at St Helens, Merseyside.

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Campaign launched to solve RE teacher shortage

Applications to teach RE have plummeted by a third but being alongside young people as they explore faith makes teaching RE “the best job in the world”

Read our report here >>

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