Graduating as a geographer, John Gay undertook theological training and a doctorate in the geography of religion at Oxford.

From teaching and parish work in Paddington he went into teacher training first at Culham College of Education and then here in the Department of Education where he was responsible for the RE PGCE course and the organisational theory component of the MSc course.

For many years John represented the Church of England on the Oxfordshire Education Committee and was on the County’s Standing Advisory Council for RE from 1980 – 2003. At the national level he was Treasurer and Company Secretary of the RE Council of England and Wales (2000 – 2009) and chair of its PR committee until 2013. From 2002 – 09 he was also the Church of England’s national spokesman on RE.

From 1980 – 2011 he was Director of the Culham Institute, a small research and development organization working in the areas of Church schools, Church colleges and universities and school-based Religious Education. The Institute moved into the Department in 2002 and John worked closely with the Department to enable RE to be re-established and sustained as a PGCE and research subject and has been heavily involved in creating and working with the Religion Philosophy and Education Research Forum.


Retiring from the Culham directorship in autumn 2011, John’s research and development programme includes:

  • Writing the history of the thirty years life and work of the Culham and St Gabriel’s educational trusts.
  • Helping the Department build up its research profile in RE.
  • Going back through the results and current implications of some of Culham’s earlier work. In recent years a significant amount of ‘market research’ for various projects was undertaken which will repay further analysis.
  • Researching the current position of the Church universities. This is a logical next step from work undertaken in the 1980s through the Church Colleges Research Project and in the 1990s through the Engaging the Curriculum Project and the feasibility work on plans for a federal Christian University of the North.
  • Undertaking empirical work at the University of Winchester (where he is a visiting professor) in relation to its role as an Anglican university
  • Examining the role of the Churches in higher education both in the UK and internationally.