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Entries for Religious Studies A level remain high with the fastest growth among arts, humanities and social sciences

Posted by: Marketing Team, 17 August 2017

The key outcomes of the 2017 A level results in England and Wales for Religious Education are as follows:


In fact, almost 21% of students admitted to Oxford University to study English and 13.5% admitted to study History in 2015 had an RS A level, more than those with Economics, Physics and Business Studies A levels.1

Employers are also recognising the value of religious literacy. For example, in February 2017, EY announced the creation of Religious Literacy for Organisations (RLO), a diversity and inclusion training programme designed to help organisations better understand religious inclusion and its positive impact on business process and performance.

Career prospects for those that take Religious Studies/Theology at degree level are also very bright, with 25% of 2015 graduates going on to work in the fields of legal, social and welfare, 11% choosing to become educational professionals and almost 5% managers.2

The high number of pupils taking A level and AS level Religious Studies is all the more impressive for coming at a time when there is a shortfall in recruitment for teacher training in Religious Education. Evidence collected by the National Association of Teachers of RE (NATRE) suggests that headteachers are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit RE specialists.

Comment from Daniel Hugill, Chair, National Association of Teachers of RE (NATRE)

“Congratulations to the many students receiving their Religious Studies results today. Their results are the product of their hard work grappling with some of the most difficult questions to ever puzzle humankind. Congratulations to their teachers too who have worked tirelessly to ensure that their students can reach their full potential. It is of little surprise to those of us who teach RS that it remains so popular amongst young people. RS A-level is an excellent preparation for both further study and for entering the world of work. RS is a subject that helps young people gain access to a wide range of degree courses including those at the most prestigious Universities. Our most recent Freedom of Information request found that more than 1 in 10 students admitted to Oxford’s Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) and History courses had studied RS A-Level. This statistic increases to more than 1 in 5 for students admitted to study English. The subject matter and approach of an RS A-level helps to equip students with the skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary to succeed in modern Britain.”

Comment from Rudolf Eliott Lockhart, Chief Executive, Religious Education Council of England and Wales (REC):

“It’s fantastic to see how popular Religious Studies A level remains. This is a highly rated subject that offers pupils the opportunity to explore crucial questions in relation to beliefs, values and morality. In doing so it provides an excellent preparation for living in a multi-faith, multi-cultural world. What’s more, Religious Studies is a rigorous, academic A-level that provides an excellent foundation for further study in a wide range of academic subjects, and remains a very attractive qualification to universities. These results are really encouraging, but there’s still work to do. I hope that the Government will want to work with us to turn enough of today’s keen A level pupils into tomorrow’s teachers to help meet the shortfall in appropriately qualified teachers of religious education that we currently face.”

Numbers of A level entries in arts, humanities and social sciences in England and Wales by selected subject area, 2003 to 2017

Notes: GCE A level results of A level candidates in England and Wales.
Source: Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ)

Download: Full press release including testimonials from students

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Notes for editors:

[1] Religious Studies ‘A’ level continues to be popular with Universities

2 Data collected for “What do graduates do? Higher Education Career Services Unit www.hecsu.ac.uk

3 Due to a change in the way that JCQ present the data, figures for 2003 to 2015 include entries from candidates in the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, figures for 2016 and 2017 do not. This change has a relatively small impact on the time series data. 2016 is the only year in which it is possible to measure the impact of this methodological change: there were 117 entries for Religious Studies from candidates in the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man suggesting that the impact of the change will be very slight

National Association of Teachers of RE
NATRE is the subject teacher association for RE professionals in primary and secondary schools and higher education, providing a representative voice at national level and publications and courses to promote professional development. NATRE’s Executive consists of a majority of serving teachers from primary and secondary schools who are elected for a three-year term of service.

Religious Education Council of England and Wales

Established in 1973, the Religious Education Council of England and Wales (REC) brings together over 60 national organisations. These comprise academic and professional associations specialising in religions and religious education, as well as individual religion and belief organisations inclusive of the range of faith communities found nationally, including Humanists UK.

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