I recently attended an interview at a local Primary School, for an Extended Schools Co-ordinator. I thought that the interview went extremely well, and at the very end, I raised a question; I informed the panel that as I am a practising Jew, I would need to take the Jewish holidays off, which I am very happy to do unpaid. The response of the Head Teacher was first to ask me which days that would be during the next 12 months (not that easy to come up with off the top of my head, as we use a lunar calendar, with an extra month added during a leap year!). I tried to give a rough estimate. Her reponse was, “Well,as long as they’re not made up ones, and it will have to come out of your annual leave”.
I felt extremely uncomfortable as I left the room – was there an insinuation, at interview stage that I was dishonest? Was there a hidden agenda as 49% of the school children are Moslem? Am I being over-sensitive? Should I withdraw my application? If I’m offered the position, what are the implications for future working relationships? Should I contact the Council Equalities Officer?
Helen Oster