The University of Chester is backing a campaign to encourage graduates and career changers to train as RE teachers.

The drive is being led by the Religious Education Council of England and Wales (REC) and is supported by universities and colleges that offer specialist RE PGCE courses.

The Beyond the Ordinary campaign highlights the benefits of a career in RE teaching and raises awareness of the availability of bursaries to cover training costs.

Despite last year’s campaign driving a surge in RE PGCE applications, there is still currently a shortage of qualified teachers to engage with students in this stimulating and challenging subject.

School statistics show that demand for Religious Education continues to rise: RE A level entries have more than doubled since 2003; and at GCSE stage full course entries increased by 19% between 2012 and 2014, and after maths, English and the Sciences, RE has the highest number of GCSE entries every year.

RE specialists do not need to have a theology degree. The PGCE course is open to graduates from a variety of academic disciplines and from all sorts of diverse backgrounds. A lack of subject expertise – according to OFSTED around half (46%) of specialist RE teachers have no post-A Level qualification in the subject – shows that there are opportunities for fast career progression.

The University of Chester believes that good RE teachers help young people make sense of the world, develop their students’ critical thinking skills and contribute significant benefits to their local communities and society as a whole.

Course leader Dr James Holt, said: “RE covers issues that dominate the news agenda every day, making it very exciting to teach. It takes teachers and students beyond the ordinary as together they unpick the facts from the fiction. RE lessons always spark a reaction, and debates will go on among the students well beyond the timetabled lesson, into the school corridors and playground.”

Chief executive officer of the REC Rudolf Eliott Lockhart said: “There is a real need for qualified specialist RE teachers. It is great time for people to consider RE teaching as a vital and viable career.”

The Beyond the Ordinary campaign is being funded by donations from charitable trusts* and higher education institutions.

For more information visit or email