Trainee RE teacher applications soar - Press release

The number of people applying to train as RE teachers in England and Wales has soared in the first few months of the 2015/16 recruitment cycle, far outperforming applications in other subjects as a whole.

Applications are up over 30 per cent compared with the same time last year, according to the University and College Admissions Service (UCAS), while overall applications for all secondary subjects combined are down by just under 1 per cent.

The UCAS figures also reveal that the number of applicants who have been offered a conditional place has more than doubled from 80 by January 2015 to 170 at the same point this year.

The surge in applications follows the launch last year of a campaign by the Religious Education Council of England and Wales (REC) to encourage graduates and career changers to train as RE teachers. The Beyond the Ordinary campaign was initiated in March last year, highlighting the stimulating and rewarding nature of RE teaching, as well as the availability of tax-free bursaries to cover training costs. The campaign has included a promotional video, direct mail campaigns, social media promotions and media partnerships.

The initiative was prompted by concerns over recent years by a drop in numbers training as specialist RE teachers, and has received backing from a number of charitable trusts*. The campaign’s impact was felt in 2015, when RE PGCE recruitment equalled its 2014 final performance three months before applications closed.

Rudolf Eliott Lockhart, Chief Executive Officer of the REC, said, “These new figures are very encouraging. This is clear evidence that when we tell the story of how exciting, dynamic and interesting RE teaching can be, people are attracted to the profession.

He added: “Great RE teachers help our young people make sense of their world by encouraging them to critically assess the issues that lead the headlines every day, making it as exciting to teach as it is to study. It takes teachers and students beyond the ordinary together and debates often go on among the students well beyond the timetabled lesson, into the school corridors and playground.”

Despite a shortage of specialist RE teachers, school statistics show that demand for RE as an academic subject continues to rise. RE A level entries have more than doubled since 2003 and at GCSE full course entries increased by 19% between 2012 and 2014. After maths, English and the sciences, RE has the highest number of GCSE entries every year.

Anyone looking for more information about training to be a RE teacher should visit


Notes to editors:

Figures taken from UCAS report published on January 18, 2016:

RE teacher trainee applications (England & Wales)

January 19, 2015


January 18, 2016

850 (+30.8%)

All secondary teacher trainee applications (England & Wales)

January 19, 2015


January 18, 2016

30,790 (-0.96%)

*Beyond the Ordinary is an initiative to encourage more people to retrain as specialist RE teachers. It is being led by the Religious Education Council of England and Wales and is funded by the Culham St Gabriel’s Trust, Exeter St Lukes, the Jerusalem Trust and the St Christopher’s Trust, with support from the National Association of Teachers of RE (NATRE) and the Association of University Lecturers in Religion and Education (AULRE).

Successful candidates are eligible to receive training bursaries of £9,000 per year (for a 1st class degree or PhD) or £4,000 per year (for a 2:1) from the Department for Education.


Campaign assets for media use include photography and the short film featuring Lynsey Wilkinson and the students from the Redhill Academy in Arnold, Nottinghamshire:

Media enquiries:

Colin Hallmark / Harriet Johnson, 3:nine Communications

Tel: 0207 736 1888