An increasing number of graduates who were educated in a traditional humanities subject such as history, philosophy or sociology are becoming RE teachers, boosting the number of religious educators to the highest level in a decade.
According to data obtained by the National Association of Teachers of RE (NATRE) via a Freedom of Information request to the Department for Education, some 196 Initial Teacher Training (ITT) students preparing to become RE teachers have gone on to complete a Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) course after graduating in a different subject.
As such, the number of ITT RE teachers has increased by 30 per cent, to 488 in the 2019/20 recruitment cycle, compared with 376 in 2018/19.
Commenting on the increase, NATRE Research Officer Deborah Weston said: “Around one hundred Theology and Religious Studies graduates choose to train to become Religious Education teachers every year. With a Government target for new RE student teachers ranging from 525 to 650 over the past four years, this means we need to recruit at least 80 per cent of trainees from other subject specialisms.
“This additional Government funding for SKE courses has opened up an exciting career in RE teaching to people from a broader range of backgrounds. Trainees mainly come from other humanities, such as philosophy, history or sociology, but we have also seen new recruits from subjects including law, criminology, or politics.”