Briefing: Shortage of RE teachers in ‘dangerous cycle’ within education

Head teachers, especially in urban areas with multiple nationalities, are enthusiastic about providing religious education, as children are surrounded in daily life by different religious dress, symbols and customs. And the future of all children, from rural or urban settings, is global, with many religions, many cultures, many languages and a competitive global market.

Religious education has a unique place in the school curriculum, spanning different subject areas, but it is hard to provide, with fewer trained specialist teachers and a crowded curriculum. This year’s exam results showed GCSE is stable with RE remaining as the seventh most popular subject, A-level results showed a slight dip in entries, fewer students chose to study theology or religious studies at university, and fewer have chosen to train to teach RE, forming a “dangerous cycle”.

In this Religion Media Centre briefing, teachers, academics and RE advisers discussed the state of RE and how to secure its future. This includes rebranding RE as Religion and Worldviews, or in Wales, Religion Values and Ethics, providing education on how people understand, interpret and respond to the world from religious and non-religious perspectives. It also includes a plea for a national plan to support high standards in RE provision and bursaries to encourage new teachers.

Hosted by Ruth Peacock, our panelists are: Deborah Weston, Chair of the RE Policy Unit for NATRE, the REC and RE Today; Dr Tim Hutchings, University of Nottingham TRS-UK; Heather Marshall, Senior Lecturer and Religious Education PGCE Course Leader at Edge Hill University; Claire Clinton, Director RE hubs project; Jennifer Harding-Richards, Wales RE hub lead; Manjit Kaur, chair of Coventry and Warwickshire SACRE; and Ed Pawson, Deputy Chair of the Religious Education Council.

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