The legacy of community cohesion: exploring the teacher agency of beginner RE teachers

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This article explores the teacher agency of five beginner RE teachers undertaking their 1-year probationary period (Post-Initial Teacher Education) 1 in five Secondary RE departments in the North-West of England during the 2018/2019 academic year. Drawn from a piece of doctoral research, the article discusses the findings of an interpretivist practitioner-inquiry, which adopted an ecological approach to teacher agency. The article suggests that for the beginner RE teachers involved in the research their sense of agency was significantly influenced by their own experiences of RE as secondary-aged pupils and that this is to a much greater extent than the current literature on teacher agency may acknowledge. The article suggests that despite the passage of time a ‘legacy of community cohesion’ dominates their sense of teacher agency and informs their sense of self as a teacher of RE. The article concludes by briefly considering the tensions, which such a sense of agency may cause in the current climate of what it means for pupils to ‘get better’ at RE.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)394-403
Number of pages10
JournalBritish Journal of Religious Education
Issue number4
Early online date8 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2023


  • Religious education
  • initial teacher education
  • secondary
  • teacher agency


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