Government Seems to Discriminate Against Religious Education

Country: United Kingdom

Date of incident: February 25, 2014

The failure of the government to provide bursaries for those wishing to teach Religious Education (RE) has been described as “rank discrimination” by a leading RE body. Childcare minister Elizabeth Truss MP confirmed this month that no bursaries would be offered for religious education teachers in training this year. This cut in the bursaries has made it increasingly difficult for those studying to teach RE.

John Keast, chairman of the Religious Education Council of England and Wales, said in a statement that it was "hard to avoid the conclusion that the refusal to give bursaries to RE trainees whilst providing them for nearly every other subject is pure discrimination by this Government against RE".
A Department for Education spokeswoman was quoted in the Telegraph as saying: "We believe it is right to focus incentives such as bursaries on those subjects where they are needed most - such as maths and physics where there has been historic under-recruitment."
As a result of the cut in bursaries, many studying to teach RE have reported increased levels of hardship through grant application processes.
Stephanie Rothwell, 21, studying for a Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) in RE at Liverpool Hope University said: "With money worries, studying becomes a practical juggling act, rather than an academic one."
Carl Fisher, 25, studying for an RE PGCE at St Mary's University said: "If it wasn't for very supportive friends and family, it would be impossible. I have to lean on their hospitality. I am very dependent on them.”