There’s a national shortage of specialist RE teachers in the UK, but Bishop Grosseteste University in Lincoln is bucking the trend.
So far this year offers made for places on the secondary PGCE in RE at BGU are up by a quarter compared to the same time last year.
Nevertheless, the university is still backing a campaign to encourage graduates and career changers to train as RE teachers.
The ‘Beyond the Ordinary’ campaign is being led by the Religious Education Council of England and Wales (REC). Supported by universities and colleges that offer specialist RE PGCE courses, it highlights the benefits of a career in RE teaching and raises awareness of the availability of bursaries to cover training costs.
RE specialists do not need to have a theology degree – the PGCE course is open to graduates from a variety of academic disciplines and from diverse backgrounds.
Becky Geeson, Admissions Tutor for RE teaching courses at BGU, said: “We have increased the number of RE places available on our secondary PCCE programme this year, and this continues to be a very popular course.
“So far we have offered RE places to over 25% more people than at the end of last year, and we still have places available and welcome further applications.
“RE covers issues that dominate the news agenda every day, making it very exciting to teach. It takes teachers and students beyond the ordinary as together they unpick the facts from the fiction.
“RE lessons always spark a reaction, and debates will go on among the students well beyond the timetabled lesson, into the school corridors and playground.”
Roxanne Fearns, Head of Religious Studies at Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School, qualified as a teacher at BGU – as did her entire RE department of four teachers!
““I love my job – what other subject allows you to enable young people to think and reflect about the world around them and develop their appreciation of different beliefs, religions and practices and the part they play in the today’s diverse world?” she said.
“At a time when religion is often misunderstood it’s important for young people to be able to study RE in order to increase awareness of different beliefs. Because the media sometimes portrays negative images of religion we need teachers who can present a different view.
“The PGCE at BGU equips you to be able to engage and enthuse young people into the study of religion and philosophy and to develop their critical thinking skills.
“The university has really good links with schools, so trainee teachers can spend more time in school. Some training establishments just ask schools if they will take a student, but BGU specifically picks schools based on how highly they rate the department.”
School statistics show that demand for Religious Education continues to rise: RE A-level entries have more than doubled since 2003, while at GCSE stage full course entries increased by 19% between 2012 and 2014.