Sobering ITT figures require urgent action
07 December, 2023, Dr Kathryn Wright
The latest official government statistics released today show that ITT recruitment for 2023 entrants was only 44% of the target for secondary religious education beginner teachers. This equates to 285 new entrants into the profession, with a target of 655. This is well below the average for all subjects and phases (62%), and below the overall secondary subject average of £50%. Whilst the target had increased significantly from previous years (from 450 to 655), this is a very worrying picture. Under-recruitment over many years has led to 51% of RE lessons in secondary schools being taught by non-specialist teachers, with pupils now three times more likely to be taught Religious Education by someone with no qualification in the subject.
Without well qualified teachers of the subject, the drive to improve standards as highlighted in the of the recent Ofsted Annual Review (2022-23) will be even more of a challenge. In the absence of consistently high-quality RE, our children miss out on an essential opportunity to learn knowledge and skills that will equip them to create harmonious and cohesive workplaces and communities, especially in the context of a diversifying and globalised world.
Whilst Culham St Gabriel’s Trust welcomes the reintroduction of a bursary for those training to teach from September 2024, this is not enough to resolve the ongoing recruitment issues from previous years. Culham St Gabriel’s has long been an advocate and supporter of initial teacher education both in the primary and secondary phase. Empowering highly skilled and well-informed teachers of religious education/religion and worldviews is a core part of our mission. The Trust will continue to promote teaching of the subject through its campaigning work, and resourcing of the profession. We will continue to lobby for further government funding and support for the recruitment of teachers and ongoing professional development for the increasing number of teachers who are called upon to teach religious education without a qualification in the subject. Urgent action is needed.
For detailed information about the Initial Teacher Training Census see: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/initial-teacher-training-census