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RE-teacher applicants leap by almost half

A LARGE RISE in the number of graduates seeking training as RE teachers has been reported by the Graduate Teacher Training Registry.

Applications for postgraduate courses in religious education beginning next September are almost 50 per cent higher than at the same time last year, compared with a seven-per-cent average rise for other subjects.

The raw figures for England show that 498 graduates have applied for specialist RE training, compared with 336 at the same time last year. There have also been many more applications from men: 163 applied, compared with 120 in 2005.
The increase reflects the Government's decision last year to encourage the recruitment of more graduates to teach RE for secondary schools, by offering "golden hellos" of £2500 to specialists. Official RE recruitment strategies have also targeted those with degrees in sociology, psychology, and philosophy, as well as in theology and religious studies. The campaign to widen the pool was pioneered by the Anglican Culham Institute's Teach RE project.

The director of Culham, the Revd Dr John Gay, said: "The rise also seems to confirm the trend towards greater interest in RE, shown in schools by the massive increase in  examination entries in the subject."

But he called for more booster courses aimed at increasing the subject knowledge of RE trainees without specialist first degrees. The Teacher Training Agency (TTA) currently runs four booster courses, but they cover only a quarter of the potential specialists.

In response to the shortage, postgraduate training places have been increased to 786 for 2006-07 and 2007-08. It now seems probable that all the available places, 46 per cent of which are in Church of England institutions, will be filled.

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