THE declining status of religious education in secondary
schools, together with government reforms, are hitting the training
of RE teachers, researchers from Bristol University have said, in a
paper for Culham St Gabriel's Trust, published this month.
RE teacher-training specialists face a double bind: specialist
courses have been cut or are closing, and training is moving from
universities to schools, say the authors, Janet Orchard and Hugo
At the same time, the exclusion of RE from the Government's list
of priority subjects has led to fewer jobs for trained RE teachers.
This means that the subject is often handed over to
non-specialists. "It is these non-specialist teachers who may be
training the next generation of RE teachers rather than
university-trained specialists," the authors warn.
Their primary purpose in the paper is to set out a model for the
preparation of teachers, and particularly teachers of RE. But they
warn that, without a systematic revision of training and courses
for serving teachers, "poor standards of teaching and learning [in
RE] will continue to be an issue."
The director of Culham St Gabriel's, Dr Mark Chater, said that
he hoped that the Department for Education would meet the
challenges outlined in the paper.
This was backed up by the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John
Pritchard, who chairs the C of E Board of Education. Speaking at an
education conference in London on Tuesday, he said that RE had lost
so much ground in so short a time - including the closure of eight
university courses - that some feared that it was
But it had also gained allies, including a support group of MPs,
said Bishop Pritchard. "The fight goes on," he told the