Just 32% of teachers of religious education in publicly funded secondary schools in England have a degree in a relevant subject, 13% have another relevant post-A Level qualification, but 55% have no relevant post-A Level qualification.
This is according to provisional statistics released by the Department for Education on 20 April 2011 and derived from the annual School Workforce Census inaugurated in November last year. The full report (with tables in PDF and Excel formats) is available at:
The proportion of religious education teachers with a relevant degree is the sixth lowest of all thirty subjects in the tables, only ICT (23%), modern languages other than French, German and Spanish (23%), engineering (18%), media studies (15%), and citizenship (4%) faring worse. 80% was the highest subject figure recorded.
There are 15,500 teachers of religious education in English secondary schools. This is equivalent to 6.5% of all subject teachers, although the number of hours they teach religious education in a typical week (124,100, or 8.0 per teacher) represents only 3.2% of the total hours taught.
This does not imply that religious education teachers are underemployed. The apparent discrepancy arises from the fact that many will be teaching other subjects, also.
79% of religious education teachers teach to Key Stage 3 (years 7-9), 67% to Key Stage 4 (years 10-11), and 25% to Key Stage 5 (years 12-13). About half of all hours taught in religious education are at Key Stage 3.
Of all the hours of religious education taught across Key Stages 3-5, 53% are taught by teachers with a degree in a relevant subject, 20% by those with another relevant post A-Level qualification, and 27% by those with no relevant post A-Level qualification.
Thus, 73% of religious education lessons are delivered by the 45% of teachers who have a relevant post-A Level qualification in the subject. This figure is exceeded by twenty-two other subjects, the best being 96%.
0.3% of religious education posts were vacant in November 2010, compared with 0.4% for all subjects.
These data from the School Workforce Census seem likely to fuel the current protests within faith communities against Government policy in a) excluding religious education from the English Baccalaureate and b) drastically cutting the number of secondary teacher training places in religious education from 2011/12.