Letters Extra: Fan of the cloth

In answer to your letters asking why vicars should be asked to mark GCSE religious education papers ( TES , June 14,) I write from my own experience as an ex-primary school headteacher married to a curate in the Church of England. Many clergy have worked in other professions prior to training for the ministry and a large number are qualified teachers. My own husband has a BA and PGCE plus a theological diploma and Certificate of Ministry. Most vicars and assistant clergy have substantial links with their local schools and some of them do indeed teach!

The wider professional role of a vicar has been likened to that of a primary school headteacher in that similar skills are required in terms of leading teams of people, pastoral care and sharing a vision for development. Work with children is a vital part of the clergy role and preaching, which the clergy are trained to do, is a form of teaching. Kay Stead (Letters) states that vicars 'cannot be said to have experience of working with people of a wide ability range across the social spectrum' and is perhaps unaware that a large part of the work of most churches is based in the local communities, supporting wherever there is a need.

Exam boards give clear guidance for the marking of papers and members of the clergy are more than able to use their academic abilities and subject expertise to do this if asked and would mark papers accordingly.

Barbara Robertson, Bournemouth, Dorsetnbsp;nbsp;nbsp;

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