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Job market for non Christian RE teachers

Discussion in 'Religious Education' started by molari, Jun 4, 2012.

  1. Hi all

    I'm interested in how other RE teachers are finding the current job market. As a very successful former curriculum leader I have been unable to get even a job interview this year. I've even applied for assistant HOD positions and have applied across all the different school types. I got feedback from two schools who said they were not interviewing anyone who didn't have either a religious studies or theology degree. I am assuming that is why I haven't got an interview in at least some of the other schools as well.

    I wondered if that was what anyone else was finding. Basically it would mean the end of the line for all of those excellent atheist RE teachers out there. Also I think it makes it hard for those following other faiths - when I was degree age RE based degrees were almost exclusively Christian - so as a Buddhist it wasn't really an option.

    Maybe the current job market is tough for everyone and I'm just making excuses. Obviously I've got nothing against Christian RE teachers who are the backbone of the profession, but if, as less job opportunities exist, it is teachers with other perspectives who are going to be struggling to find employment, then I think it will be a great loss to the profession. I know schools use degree subject to sort candidates, I guess that's what I'm saying - maybe in the interest of equal opportunities they shouldn't in the case of RE.

    Any views would be appreciated.
     
  2. Hi all

    I'm interested in how other RE teachers are finding the current job market. As a very successful former curriculum leader I have been unable to get even a job interview this year. I've even applied for assistant HOD positions and have applied across all the different school types. I got feedback from two schools who said they were not interviewing anyone who didn't have either a religious studies or theology degree. I am assuming that is why I haven't got an interview in at least some of the other schools as well.

    I wondered if that was what anyone else was finding. Basically it would mean the end of the line for all of those excellent atheist RE teachers out there. Also I think it makes it hard for those following other faiths - when I was degree age RE based degrees were almost exclusively Christian - so as a Buddhist it wasn't really an option.

    Maybe the current job market is tough for everyone and I'm just making excuses. Obviously I've got nothing against Christian RE teachers who are the backbone of the profession, but if, as less job opportunities exist, it is teachers with other perspectives who are going to be struggling to find employment, then I think it will be a great loss to the profession. I know schools use degree subject to sort candidates, I guess that's what I'm saying - maybe in the interest of equal opportunities they shouldn't in the case of RE.

    Any views would be appreciated.
     
  3. pete14

    pete14 New commenter

    I think the job market is quite tough and has been for some time. As a way of sifting applications, it seems sensible to take into account main degree subject, especially with the current emphasis on subject knowledge. I fail to follow the logic that this excludes atheists and members of faiths other than Christianity. Degrees in Religious Studies can be incredibly broad, and all the better for it. Personal beliefs have no bearing on appointments in schools other than faith schools, the only way appointing schools would be aware of personal beliefs would be if the applicant told them and why would they feel the need to do this?

    I sympathise with people desperate to find employment but I think OPs interpretation is wide of the mark.
     
  4. 576

    576 Established commenter

    When I did my theology degree back in the 90s there were several non-Christians studying the same courses (don't know whether or not they were atheists but may well have been)

     
  5. I am not religious and did my degree in the early 90s - specialising in Indian religions. This has never caused me any problems in getting a job and has definitely given me an advantage in getting several posts in multi-faith and non-denominational schools.
    As a HoD, I would probably not interview an applicant who did not have an RS/Theology degree. In the current climate I want to send out the message that RE is an important academic subject. Maths and Science would not dream of employing someone without a degree in the subject - why should RE?
     
  6. fpno@another.com

    fpno@another.com New commenter

    I interviewed a couple of years ago and intend to interview for an RS teacher in the next month or so. The last time I interviewed, I had about 30 applicants. My first shortlist was based on degree studied, I only shortlisted candidates with Theology or Philosophy degrees, only then did I look at A-Levels and finally at Personal Statement and previous jobs and work experiences.
    I had about 15 candidates with First Class degrees in wither Theology or Philosophy, why would I look at anyone else?
     
  7. Helena Handbasket

    Helena Handbasket New commenter

    Maybe because a first class degree doesn't make an excellent teacher?
    I have to say, I find it very disheartening to hear that my related degree, PGCE and three years experience will count for nothing if I want to apply for another job :-(
     
  8. If I may say, that's a terrible way to sift applications in teaching. To answer your somewhat rhetorical question, because degree classification bears little impact on effectiveness as a teacher. This is demonstrated by study after study after study.
    A better way to sift candidates might be VA scores, pass rates/high grades etc at GCSE/GCE, y'know, tangible, relevant data?
     
  9. On the other hand, we found that biometric data (i.e. information about
    a teachers’ age and teaching experience, additional responsibilities,
    qualifications, career history and so on) did not allow us to predict their
    effectiveness as a teacher. Effective and outstanding teachers came
    from diverse backgrounds. Our data did not show that school context
    could be used to predict pupil progress. Effective and outstanding
    teachers teach in all kinds of schools and school contexts. This means
    that using biometric data to predict a teacher’s effectiveness could well
    lead to the exclusion of some potentially outstanding teachers.
    This
    finding is also consistent with the notion that pupil progress outcomes
    are affected more by a teacher's skills and professional characteristics
    than by factors such as their sex, qualifications or experience.
    - Hay McBer report on teacher effectiveness from 2000
     
  10. 576

    576 Established commenter

    Biometrics refers to technologies that measure and analyze human body characteristics, such as DNA, fingerprints, eye retinas and irises, voice patterns, facial patterns and hand measurements.

     
  11. It's a shame as one would hope that RE teachers would be judged on their awareness of values, spirituality, cultural understanding and how to support the school's ethos as well as their potential for exam results.
     
  12. TheBigA

    TheBigA Occasional commenter

    Personally, I don't like the idea of someone teaching a subject they don't have a degree in. They could very well be an excellent teacher, but maybe they should apply those skills to a subject more relevant to their degree?
     
  13. I wouldn't be so specific as to want a theology degree but I woudl definitely give preference to a Religious Studies degree over a vaguely related one like criminology or psychology that a lot of the PGCE students seem to be coming through with now.

    Above all I want passion - and a degree outside of RS type degrees doesn't convince me you are all that bothered - obviously the OP is differnet as they state they didn't have those when they studied - i suspect maybe you are expensive and if you have done HOD role and applied for class teacher then I would wonder why unless your letter had a brilliant explanation. RE Asst head/SLT type roles - hard tocomment not knowing what expereince you have/haven't had.

    Good Luck in the job search anyway.
     
  14. Some very interesting comments here. I think there's a difference between saying you'd want a maths teacher to have a maths degree and saying you'd want an RE teacher to have an RE degree. Without a maths degree there probably isn't really another way for someone to gain the required understanding, knowledge and skills. I don't think it's the same for RE - a religious person may have spent a significant amount of time studying religious texts and philosophy as well as engaging in religious practices maybe for years, and maybe in a very structured way, then they would certainly have the insight, understanding and passion to teach the subject.

    Having managed a variety of NQT's and ST's over the years I haven't seen any evidence that those with RE related degrees are any more knowledgeable or passionate than those without in terms of their planning or delivery.

    At the same time in the current climate schools do need some way to sift through all the applications they receive. But the comment about prior exam results and teaching achievements seems key to me - it would suggest more clearly how good someone is at the job.

    I didn't realise that non-Christians might study Theology so that's good to know. In any case I'm resigned to the fact that I'll need to find another subject to teach (which is a shame because I'm in this because of religion rather than because of teaching) or find another profession (which is also a shame because I'm really good at this).

    In any case, thanks for sharing your experiences and my best wishes to you.
     
  15. 576

    576 Established commenter

    No, this would enable them to teach 'their religion' not RE.
    With 6 major world religions all RE teachers have significant gaps in their subject knowledge! You can't possible have the depth and breadth that you could teach any of the 6 major religions to A level standard.
    Why unnecessarily exasperate the problem by recruiting someone who hasn't done an academic study of any of them
    I once worked with a PGCE student whose degree was in Media, his PGCE was in RE and his first position was English! [​IMG]
    Though if you have years and years of experience teaching RE you would think that would count for something in the eyes of recruiters! [​IMG]
     
  16. shamsh

    shamsh Occasional commenter

    Hello, I'm in a similar position to the OP as a non-Christian without a degree in Philosophy or Theology, although my main course in my undergraduate degree was Islamic Studies, which has been very helpful, but I didn't do A-Level Philosophy & Ethics as my (Catholic) secondary school only offered A Level Theology and bizarrely didn't offer GCSE RE and so maybe on paper I don't look as well qualified, especially as I've only been able to get temporary contracts and supply since completing my PGCE, but I have managed to get some interviews. It is competitive out there, and it is incredibly disheartening sometimes, but I know I'm a good teacher, and that my excellent and broad subject knowledge has consistently been observed as one of my strengths in observations of my teaching. I have learnt a lot over the past few years teaching in a wide range of contexts, and can't imagine being happy in a job that isn't related to teaching, which I'm sure is the same for many of you, despite the stresses of the job, which is why I'm persisting in the job hunt.



    One of you mentions that perhaps people should teach the subject they studied at undergraduate level- sometimes it's not that simple. I didn't plan on going into teaching until I moved abroad and ended up working as an unqualified teacher and fell in love with the job, and many of the subjects studied at university are not taught in schools, but are excellent preparation for teaching. Surely in this day and age we should be preparing students to be lifelong learners with skills that prepare them for a career path that might be much more varied than their parents and grandparents' generations. Also we should be setting an example by continuing to learn ourselves and develop our subject knowledge rather than harking back to undergraduate degrees that for some of us were decades ago (but still relevant).
     
  17. I'm a HoD in Devon and in my 7 years at the school have not appointed once despite having 2 maternity replacements as people the school already knew were used. To add to that, there are massive falling numbers here, which will only pick up in 3 years time so it is unlikely that there will be many RE jobs in Devon / Cornwall until then with the only ones appearing due to current teachers leaving / being promoted which seems to be very far and few between at the moment.

    As a PGCE Mentor, my best trainees have had psychology & criminology degrees. They were passionate about the subject and really engaged with the students. The RS / Theology based ones have been less engaging so I don't mind if you have not done a RS / Theology degree - passion for the subject is more important. Someone who can inspire mixed ability year 9s on a Friday afternoon is important to me. Show me that in a letter of application (if all goes to plan in the dept I will be appointing within 24 months) and I'll call you to interview.

    S
     
  18. I am an American who never did a degree in Theology and never took any RE in school.My degree was in Social Science which gave me a great background for the subjects I teach. I am a member of the Bahai Faith and learned about all the different religions as a child growing up. I have travelled to sixty different countries including extensive travel in Israel. I have been able to bring these religions to life. I also teach History, Exam Citizenship and all years of PSE. I did my PGCE in RE and love the subject. Our school teaches Citizenship and RE combined and these two subjects combine so well together. Citizenship helps to put a different side to RE and understanding on how laws are made and how they affect the topics we teach is especially helpful in ethical debates.

    If I had only studied theology I would not have had the knowledge I have today. In teaching we will have to be teaching more than one subject as a norm.
     
  19. TheBigA

    TheBigA Occasional commenter


    What if their degree was in physics?
     
  20. TheBigA

    TheBigA Occasional commenter

    Which is?
     

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