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Job Specification Requires 'clear Commitment To Christian Faith&#3


Deb
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Have just received job/person specification for a manager for an outdoor sessional pre-school, affiliated to a local church which sounds very exciting. I feel I can meet the skills requirements, personal qualities and attributes and grow into the role

 

However, at the bottom it states that the setting has a 'Christian ethos, this post is a designated post for which there is a genuine occupational requirement for the post-holder to demonstrate a clear commitment to the Christian faith. This is to provide spiritual leadership and maintain the Christian ethos of the setting'

 

Now, I have been christened and am C of E, go to church for weddings, funerals, christenings, and on Christmas Eve but I do not have a strong Christian faith - I'm keeping an open mind but sitting on the fence on that one! I hope that doesn't offend anybody.

 

I do feel that I am a kind, considerate, patient, understanding, empathetic person who believes in helping others.

 

I fear my lack of commitment to the Christian faith procludes me from applying for the post, sadly. What do others think?

 

In my current setting we visit the local church at Harvest Festival, re enact the Nativity at Christmas, celebrate Mothering Sunday, we send Easter cards and talk about new life, and explore other cultures and generally support children's personal, social and emotional development.

 

I was drawn to this job by the forward thinking ethos, with an emphasis on creative, holistic, outdoor learning, involving parents etc etc.

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This is a tricky one Deb: I think there is a wide difference between going to church for all the usual reasons and being able to "demonstrate a clear commitment to the Christian faith". I would probably describe myself much in the way you describe your own religious involvement/beliefs - and I would definitely not feel equipped or qualified to provide spiritual leadership. :o

 

Should you decide to apply you will have to make all this clear - but perhaps your other skills, experiences and attributes may outweigh this part of the person spec? If you like the sound of the organisation and believe you have something to offer them, then why not apply and make your case? It may be that they have no applicants who can fulfil this part of their requirements in which case they may need to seek other ways to maintain the Christian ethos of their group.

 

I guess I'm sitting on the fence here: it would be a shame to miss out on an opportunity by not applying if other applicants don't have a strong faith, but clearly if their 'dream' candidate can fulfill the religious requirements then they are probably not going to pursue your application.

 

I know there are Christian practitioners on here who will no doubt offer much better advice than I can - but so long as you are honest in your application and don't try to pull the wool over their eyes, I can't see what harm applying will cause: the worst that will happen is that they'll send you a polite letter saying no!

 

Sorry - not a lot of help I know!

 

Maz

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Deb you sound as though you DO maintain a Christian ethos. I am connected to a church literally by an interconnecting door. I do celebrate all the festivals (christian and others)

I just take care not to display anything that would offend the Christian faith. How much involvement would the Church expect to have with your setting?

Vicars these days are so busy these days. Our vicar has no time to visit us at all but appreciates an invite to attend nativities etc.

Myself I would still apply for the post.

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I'm with bubble there. I see no reason for you not to apply - as Maz has said, be honest; it shows you have the right ethos even if you don't have the faith, and they can make their own minds up. I would hope they would be christian enough to give you a chance, I would, I think if it were me receiving the application, even if they have requested a clear commitment to Christian faith.

 

Keep us informed please.

 

Sue

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Agree !

I am manager of a Christian Pre-school and we have that on our job description and ideally would want our senior members of staff to be practicing Christians. But, we have a deputy supervisor who is not in the least a Christian but she is a brilliant practitioner and got the job because of that.

Not sure how our church leaders would feel about giving the managers job to a non-christian though, but as someone else said if you were the best candidate hopefully they would be able to get around the issue in another way. No harm in going for it, but just be very honest.

Good luck.

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I agree with others comments, and I am of similar character to yourself in terms of religious practice.

However, I would personally want to research more about what their Christian Ethos policy actually means in practice, would it affect enabling the children to be introduced to / experience / explore all faiths / religions? Does their ethos in practice follow all the requirements of the EYFS? Does their ethos in any way exclude other faiths into the preschool?

I'm just not sure about equality of opportunity if candidates are judged on faith? (although I suppose Vicars are employed purely on their faith)

Is the faith aspect a 'required' or 'desired' aspect of the person spec?

 

Let us know what you find out / decide.

 

Peggy

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I work in a church based preschool and when I got the job just over 10 years ago my job description did say that I needed to be a member of the church (which Im wasnt), I got the job because I at the time I regularly attend church elsewhere but I have since stopped going to church totally and no one has challenged my position as preschool leader. so I woud say go for it

 

also check employment law under equal opportunities / discrimination I dont think religion can be put in a job discription as a requirement, Im sure church groups have to offer their jobs to non christians as well as christians

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Many thanks for all your replies.

 

Out of interest I have telephoned ACAS who put me onto the Equality and Human Rights commission where I spoke to a lady called Polly in the employment section. It is possible that an organisation can stipulate a 'geniune occupational requirement' if it can be proved that it is needed in order to do the job, and meet the setting's ethos. So for example, it would be difficult to stipulate a GOR for say a cleaner to have a commitment to the Christian faith.

 

Polly advised me to contact the Christian Trust sponsoring the post to ask them how they feel the position qualifies for a 'genuine occupational requirement' to demonstrate a commitment to the Christian Faith and it would be up to them to justify their decision. Not that I would have any intention of doing so, but their decision could be challenged. Every time a post is advertised, an organisation would need to go through the process of proving that a certain position required a GOR for whatever reason.

 

The application form asks 'you to describe your faith commitment and willingness to support a Christain ethos nursery' - I could support a Christian ethos nursery but personally I cannot say I have a faith commitment, just an open mind. I could provide personal, social and emotional leadership but not spiritual leadership.

 

As Peggy said I also want to find out more about what their Christian Ethos policy actually means in practice, would it affect enabling the children to be introduced to / experience / explore all faiths / religions? Does their ethos in practice follow all the requirements of the EYFS? Does their ethos in any way exclude other faiths into the preschool?

 

I just need to decide if and how I go about it.

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It is a long time ago now but when I did a teaching practice in a catholic school I was told that 60% of the staff had to be practising catholics and that all other staff had to be committed to promoting the catholic ethos of the school which included prayers 3 times a day and specific teaching of faith issues. The staff were very open with each other and those who were non practising would often call on the knowledge/expertise of others to take the lead at certain times. I think as long as you are happy to promote the ethos of the group and seek support when necessary they will be happy to accept your honesty and application! Good luck :o

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Thank you all for your comments.

 

I decided to apply for the position and have just finished my application.

 

The more I researched what 'Christian ethos' meant by looking at different settings on the internet, the more I felt my application would not be successful because although I am sympathetic to Christian values I could not demonstrate a faith commitment, as required. However, having gone this far and spent this much time on it I decided to go ahead anyway, why am I so stubborn, but then one of the qualities the job required was a commitment to quality in all areas! If nothing else I have developed my CV and vision statement for next time.

 

Will let you know the outcome.

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Guest Wolfie

I think that you've made the right decision Deb! Good luck with the application - let us know how you get on! :o

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Good luck with your application Deb. Don't underestimate yourself though. I come in contact with quite a few of the church members after the sessions have finished.. Every time I see him he comments how pro-active the pre-school is in all areas.helping parents,caring for the children, giving them opportunities to appreciate the world around us. I remember the first time I was invited to take children into the church at Easter. I asked what the service would consist of because I was concerned that the children would sit still. He said we could sing nursery rhymes and he would do cartwheels. Churches are not so "stuffy "now and I know they are very concerned about the decline in Church members so I offer to advertise church fun days. We take the children into the church or invite the priest into us twice a year. I personally attend Church with grandchildren at Christmas.

 

Sounds very exciting though an outdoor setting!!!!!!! where will the pre-school base be.

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Thanks for your support, maybe the situation is not quite so cut and dried then!

 

Bubblejack I don't really know much about the setting - the advert wanted a Pre-School Manager for a new outdoor setting to provide a creative, holistic curriculum, with daily farm walks etc- and I was hooked!

 

I don't know in what accommodation the setting is based, what equipment there is, what funding there is for setting it up, how sustainable the idea is - it just seemed to me to be very forward thinking! Mustn't get too carried away!

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Don't know why but I'm feeling very positive for you Debs, I think even if not church goers, the british culture is based on christian values and as like most other religions, 'faith' in practise is partly about being good to others and self, which all FSF members are experts at. :o

 

From your brief description it sounds like a new setting which to me makes it all the more exciting.

 

Fingers crossed, if it's the place you want to work for and interview is given / successful, I look forward to hearing wonderful descriptions in the future of outdoor preschool experiences. xD

 

Peggy

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  • 2 weeks later...

Update......I have an interview at the end of the month! Woooo!! So will find out more then.

 

I just wish there was an easier way of proving your suitability other than interviews - hey ho!

 

 

Now all I need to do is demonstrate that I can support children's learning within a creative, holistic curriculum outdoors!

 

Any thoughts welcome!

 

Do we have any forum members who work in an outdoor setting?

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Yes best of luck. I don't think that you need to be too worried about the Christian faith aspect from what you have said. They will be looking for an excellent practitioner first and foremost, but obviously in a church pre-school will want someone who is happy to support Christian ethos and perhaps occasionally take a small part in church life. This is unlikely to be onerous, more about what you have mentioned the Nativity, Easter and perhaps stories from the Bible. I'm also sure that they would be very happy for you to support the multicultural and spiritual aspects of the EYFS. They probably need to be sure you are not likely to object to that, or to opt out as some teachers can in schools.

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Good luck Debs,

Are you aware of the Learning through landscapes charity, fantastic resources, ideas, support on the outdoors environment.

 

Their website HERE

 

Peggy

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It all sounds very exciting Deb.

It will be good for parents to expect and get used to their children being outside. We try and use our outside area in all weathers but some some parents just don't dress their children suitably.I think I will put up the quote by Helen Bilton "No such thing as bad weather only unsuitable clothing. Some Parents park right outside the building run in saying "you won't be going outside today WILL YOU because i haven't brought their jacket (or even worse)can they stay indoors because they are not well"

We now have a supply of outdoor clothing for children to wear,which I have accumulated from the lost property box. Just means if too many children are not suitably dressed they can't all go out together.Then its not free flow, Mrs O won't approve.

 

Good luck for the interview Deb Let us know how you get on.

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  • 2 months later...

Thought I'd bring you uptodate, incase anybody was wondering but didn't like to ask!

 

Today I was offered the job of pre-school manager, subject to references. HOWEVER, I decided not to accept it :o !

 

You may recall I went for an interview in August, followed by a promise to call me in a few days as they wanted the setting to open in January. Two weeks later, having heard nothing, I phoned to be told that yes they were interested (probably genuinely very busy) and they would get back to me to arrange a meeting.

 

5 weeks later, out of the blue, I am contacted and invited back. Not wanting to cut my nose off to spite my face, despite having long given up on the job, I went with an open mind. During the interview I said that I could not start in January, not wanting to behave unreasonably with my current setting plus I felt 2 months to set up a setting from scratch around my work and study would be pushing it, especially leading up to Christmas.

 

I considered the position very carefully and forwarded a few questions arising after the interview. In response I was offered the job to start in January! Despite being lovely people, with good intentions and a sound ethos, I felt that their dealings with me up to this point did not bode well for an easy relationship or that they fully understood the responsibility and commitment they would be undertaking. I want go into details but my husband and I both came to this conclusion separately. I only hope I'm not wrong in wanting to do everything properly with total professionalism.

 

Though I feel I've made the right choice, I still feel rather empty after all the excited anticipation and effort put into my application. Oh well, half term next week - a very tiny window for some R&R then try to catch up on some study!

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"I want go into details but my husband and I both came to this conclusion separately. I only hope I'm not wrong in wanting to do everything properly with total professionalism.

 

Though I feel I've made the right choice, I still feel rather empty after all the excited anticipation and effort put into my application. Oh well, half term next week -"

 

 

Hey, the dream didn't become a reality, but wise owl you (and hubby) you considered the 'reality' of the dream scenario and came to the right conclusion. Call it basic instinct that told you 'something isn't quite right here'.

 

Have a good R&R, acknowledge that the work, reflective thought and input that you put into your application isn't wasted, it has made you a better person than you were before you did it. :o

 

Pat on the back for being honest to yourself and realistic. A hard process to go through but you know deep down was the right decision in the end. xD

 

You have shown a true strength of character, sticking to your principles. Well done.

 

Peggy

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Thanks Peggy - I think my experience with committees over the years and reading about many of the realities faced by 'posters' on here, helped me to consider why I would put myself through that. I have a good job, not without it's moments but then who doesn't, and thankfully I don't have to find a job.

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