§ Mr. Watts
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what assessment he has made of the number of specialist teachers of religious education required in the secondary sector to ensure that teaching of religious education is conducted primarily by appropriately qualified specialists; what assessment he has made of the number of such specialist teachers who should be undergoing training at any one time in order to maintain an adequate supply of qualified teachers; and how many are currently undergoing such training.
§ Mr. Chris Patten
In 1984, 16,900 full-time teachers in maintained secondary schools in England reported that they held a higher education qualification with religious education as a main or subsidiary subject. If all schools were to give first priority to ensuring that religious education was taught by appropriately qualified staff, the supply of such teachers nationally would be more than sufficient to meet their needs. In practice, schools have thought it necessary to assign many of those teachers for some or all of their time to teach other subjects in which they are qualified, and many teachers without a qualification in religious education have been asked to teach the subject for a few periods a week. It is for local education authorities and head teachers to consider the scope for managing the teacher force so as to allow a closer match between qualifications and assignments. Target intakes to initial teacher training in England and Wales in religious education have been set so as to meet anticipated demand from the schools for teachers qualified in the subject: in 1985, 259 students were admitted to PGCE courses, and 45 to BEd courses, against targets of 249 and 105 respectively. The increased emphasis on the one year PGCE courses from 1986 in preference to the BEd should allow output to increase in the next few years.