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The Faith Reference

Discussion in 'Jobseekers' started by studentfairy, May 28, 2019.

  1. studentfairy

    studentfairy New commenter

    Please can someone tell me that I'm not the only person having problems with this.

    I am a Catholic and would like to work in a Catholic/CoE school. As you might know, these posts ask for a faith reference, and sometimes this is optional. Sometimes it is in the Essential Criteria, and sometimes it is Desirable.

    I didn't attend Church during my teen years due to a lapse in faith, but started believing again at 18 and I started attending Church again late last year. Have been going for 7 months, every Sunday, although I'm not involved in any events and am not able to help out. I approached the vicar and asked for a faith reference, but she didn't seem to know what this was. I explained, and she asked me a bit about myself, and said she would be able to provide me with a reference based on our conversation, but obviously she didn't know me so it couldn't be more than that. I was satisfied with this and thought that schools merely wanted proof of your faith, ie. that you go to Church.

    Well at my last interview, this reference was brought up to me in my feedback. The Head said that I talked about how religious I was and that I've done the Catholic Certificate etc, but that they weren't impressed with my faith reference. She said it had nothing positive in it and the vicar "didn't seem to know you", so it wasn't good enough and they were basically questioning my actual faith. She suggested that I don't use this reference anymore.

    Now I'm really confused. I did not realise schools expected this level of committment and I don't understand how they can expect every religious person to be known and friendly to the vicar, especially in a big church like mine. I though they merely wanted proof that you attended Church? Maybe this school did just want someone who was heavily involved in their church, but hopefully not all schools expect that? Otherwise I feel pretty hopeless because it's a big ask in modern society, I feel... :/

    Has anyone else had an experience like this?
  2. J.M.Powell

    J.M.Powell New commenter

    I can’t comment about Catholic schools, but I’m confident you won’t have the same issues with a C of E school.
  3. TheOracleAtDelphi

    TheOracleAtDelphi Established commenter

    I'm intrigued - why are you attending a non-Catholic church if you are Catholic? If the church is so big that the vicar doesn't know you personally, it would imply that you attend church (if not live) in a large-ish town or city so it isn't like there wouldn't be a Catholic church around?
  4. snowfairy

    snowfairy New commenter

    I don't have exact experience you have had but have worked in catholic schools as a non catholic. At the schools I have applied and worked in there has never been a space for a faith reference...... I have always been asked at interview whether I am supportive of the Catholic faith and being a science teacher I have been asked about how science and faith fit together.

    I would keep applying and maybe in your cover letter and interview address the reference. Put a statement in about the church you attend and how you are part of a large congregation......... At the interview when asked about your faith talk about how you feel that you have enjoyed re establishing your faith and being part of a large congregation it is takes time to become well know to your vicar. You can put a positve spin on most thngs and say how lucky you are that congregation at your church is so large and dynamic etc.

    The right school will come along and when its the right fit I very much doubt the faith reference will be a problem!
    agathamorse likes this.
  5. varcolac

    varcolac Occasional commenter

    I'm confused. You're a Catholic but your vicar is a woman? Sorry, you're definitely going to a Protestant church if you call them a vicar and they're a lady. That would certainly not impress people at a Catholic school, and would certainly confuse them if you'd been talking about your Catholic faith. Indeed if you'd been talking about the strength of your Catholic conviction and produced a reference from an Anglican, they'd be well within their rights to say they didn't seem to know you!

    I have no faith. I got a job at a Catholic school no problem with no faith reference. Sure it's desirable in some cases, and in many cases the Diocese has them put it on the person specification. What's more desirable is a capable teacher, whatever their faith.
    JohnJCazorla and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  6. mbee1

    mbee1 Occasional commenter

    I don’t agree with varcolac. We go to a Church of England church and have done for years. My daughter applied for a job in a Catholic Primary and was asked to supply a faith reference which our vicar was pleased to do. She got the job. You don’t have to be a Catholic to teach in a Catholic school although most will want you to have faith in God.

    That’s where I think Church of England schools fall down. They rarely want a faith reference. I believe all teachers at faith schools regardless of denomination should profess their faith. Faith schools will be all the more better for it.
  7. TheOracleAtDelphi

    TheOracleAtDelphi Established commenter

    Yes mbee1, but presumably you are not Catholic? I think varcolac - like I did earlier - was querying the unconventionality of a CATHOLiC attending a non-Catholic church...
  8. mbee1

    mbee1 Occasional commenter

    Perhaps i misread it. However, it’s strange a vicar in the Church of England wouldn’t know how to write a faith reference
  9. TheOracleAtDelphi

    TheOracleAtDelphi Established commenter

    I don't know whether it is still the case but where I used to live the assorted vicars/ministers/priests/others were asked to do a reference type form for children applying to faith secondaries so the vicar might be used to that but has perhaps never had to do one for an adult before! I know sometimes they might be asked to provide a character reference if they know you well enough but that is a bit different to being asked to write a faith reference.
  10. mbee1

    mbee1 Occasional commenter

    If you’re a reasonably regular attender at church a faith reference shouldn’t be a problem. Our vicar wrote both a reference to get our twin daughters into a VA secondary school ten miles from home and then wrote a reference for my daughter to get a job in a Catholic Primary school as a teacher.
  11. studentfairy

    studentfairy New commenter

    It's my boyfriend's church and we wanted to go together. :) There is indeed a Catholic church, but I was nervous about attending for the first time on my own so went to my boyfriend's church, which is a very student-friendly place.
  12. studentfairy

    studentfairy New commenter

    Ah I see! Funnily enough, I found out who got the job at this school (he's also a student at my university) and he didn't have a faith reference and has never attended Church in his life. So basically, the faith reference comments weren't really why I didn't get it, aha.

    That's a good idea, I'll do that from now! Thank you :)
    agathamorse likes this.
  13. studentfairy

    studentfairy New commenter

    My apologies - her correct title is 'Curate', although everyone refers to her as the Vicar. It's an Anglican Church. I didn't mention any titles during my interview so that wouldn't be why.

    That's fair enough, and indeed is the case with this job, as I found out yesterday!
  14. studentfairy

    studentfairy New commenter

    Good to hear about your daughter :) Obviously having the faith in a CoE or Catholic school doesn't necessarily make you a better teacher, but I would agree that they may naturally be better at upholding 'the ethos' or 'religious character' of the school.
  15. studentfairy

    studentfairy New commenter

    I was surprised, I must admit! Thought she would often be asked.

    I might ask another member of the Church. The woman/curate/vicar I asked holds most of the services, so I thought she would recognise me more than anyone else.

    Now I'm thinking perhaps this lady thought I was asking for a character reference. Do you or anyone know what a faith reference usually says? I honestly thought it would just be something short to confirm that said person goes to church!
  16. TheOracleAtDelphi

    TheOracleAtDelphi Established commenter

    Sorry, I don't think I was clear - I'm just saying that a vicar might not be asked very often for a faith reference for an adult (rather than a child). The general advice (as opposed to for a specific school) for the CES forms seems to be that you only need a parish priest reference if you are a practising Catholic. If you are non-practising you can attach your baptismal certificate or details of when and where your baptism took place. There seems to be less standardisation for Anglican schools but I don't particularly recall a section for a third faith based reference on the forms I have done recently. I can't think of too many other jobs where a faith reference would be required...

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