RETRI was established in April 1999 to develop and implement effective strategies for recruiting more quality secondary RE teachers and primary RE co-ordinators. Concern had been growing during recent years about the supply and retention of good quality RE teachers, both as specialists in secondary schools and a subject co-ordinators in primary schools. Professor Brian Gates of St. Martin's Lancaster and Professor John Howson of Oxford Brookes were asked to produce statistical reports on the matter for a reference group of RE professionals. These reports were debated in a national seminar in June 1998 and from those discussions the RE Teacher Recruitment Initiative (RETRI) was developed.
Who pays for RETRI?
Five educational trusts are providing £180,000 to fund the three-year venture. They all belong to an organization called 'The Association of Church College Trusts'. These trusts were Anglican teacher training colleges, which were closed down, in the late 1970s and early 1980s. From the sale of their assets the funds were used to establish educational charities. The five trusts sponsoring this work are:
All Saints Educational Trust
The St. Gabriel's Trust
The Foundation of St. Matthias
The Keswick Hall Charity
Culham Educational Foundation
Who's behind RETRI?
The Development Officer for the Initiative is Tina Renshaw, a former secondary RE teacher and Head of Department for four years. Having taught in county secondary schools in the South East of England she is well aware of the 'problems' associated with RE, yet is fully committed to the subject and the work in this Initiative.
"Here is one view of what RETRI means to me. Shortly before I commenced my position as Development Officer, my school was interviewing the Year 11 for entrance into the sixth form. There were 15 students who wanted to continue with RS and the Head of Sixth Form commented on how eruditely they explained their reasons for wanting to study the subject. They were not all academic high flyers but what they could all show was a passion for the subject and its relevance for them. For me that was a personal pinnacle: no longer did I need to engender and encourage in them a sense of the value of RE; they had made their own mature conclusion. I want every pupil and student to have the succession of RE teachers who make this happen."
Who supports what RETRI is doing?
Jacqui Smith, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for School Standards
"The importance of RE in the curriculum makes it important that we attract good quality RE teachers for primary and secondary schools. I support this Initiative in helping to achieve that aim."
Anthea Millett, former Chief Executive of the TTA
"At the TTA, we recognize the significant contribution of RE to children's understanding of moral and spiritual values, and of the faith and culture of different religious communities in our society. To teach RE well, teachers need not only a broad and thorough knowledge of their subject, but also the imagination and sensitivity to engage students with often complex or difficult ideas and issues. We support RETRI in its aim to increase the recruitment of high quality RE specialists into the teaching profession."
Barbara Wintersgill, HMI (RE) Office for Standards in Education
"I hope that as a result of this initiative more young people choosing teaching as a career will respond to the challenge and scope of religious education and take it as their specialist subject."
The RETRI website contains a host of supporters so visit our site from April to hear from the 'great and the good'
What will RETRI be doing?
The main focus of the work will be to produce promotional strategies that encourage and empower people to become teachers of RE in secondary schools and primary RE co-ordinators. In April our website will go live which will be a place of information, discussion and debate for those current and future teachers of RE. The website will include pieces from individual serving teachers about being an RE specialist, both the highs and the lows; views of Headteachers, advisors, RE professionals and members of faith communities. It will help future teachers to contact institutions, schools and individuals. We will have a network of 'good practice centres' for RE, nominated by LEA RE Advisors and Diocesan Advisors, they will make themselves a point of contact with interested individuals. This area of the website has received funding from the Teacher Training Agency.
Also funded by the Teacher training Agency, we are making a recruitment video that will be sent to all universities and their Careers Departments who offer Theology or Religious Studies modules and complete degree courses. The video will present a challenging and positive image of teaching and RE. We are researching the motivation of those who become RE teachers, in order to address the areas which influence people to enter the RE world. These are our current projects and all the information will be on the website in April.
Would you like to get involved?
We are asking teachers to write for our website; sharing their views and ideas on a range of issues. Why not share your 'best bits' or serious thoughts with colleagues and future colleagues. Nominate your department to be a 'centre of good practice' and we will check you out!! RETRI is about securing a future of excellent RE teachers for all our young people, because we value the huge contribution that RE makes.
If you would like to know more about the initiative Tina Renshaw can be contacted at
Culham College Institute,
60 East St Helen Street,
Oxon. OX14 5EB
or via email firstname.lastname@example.org