top of page

Guidance for Referees

Thank you for agreeing to be a referee for a candidate who has applied to a Catholic school.  

We believe that Catholic education is more than simply following a curriculum or listing aspirations

in a mission statement. It is learning in a way in which all members of the school community are invited

to be open to God in their lives and the lives of others, and, where the grace is given, to encounter

the person of Jesus Christ. 

With the head teacher as chief catechist and leader of the school, the teaching staff in particular

are asked to interact with the young people in their care in a way which embodies and makes real

the ideals of the Gospel, love of God and love of neighbour.


For most, faith, ideals and values are not ‘caught’ by reading a book but in relationship with another.

Staff in a Catholic school are asked by the Church to participate and support activities which underline the importance of these for a Christian community.


For those who directly lead young people in learning about their faith, being a part of the believing community is essential. The importance of staffing our schools with suitable personnel

cannot be overestimated. 


Approbation of staff in a denominational school is also a legal matter. According to Scottish Law,

any teacher appointed to a recognised denominational school is required to be ‘...approved as regards religious belief and character by representatives of the church or denominational body in whose interest

the school has been conducted.” (Education (Scotland) Act 1918; 1980; Self-Governing Schools etc. (Scotland) Act 1989).


Where rights are given responsibilities also exist. Along with the approval of the religious syllabus in Catholic Schools, the authority, both in civil and church law, for the approval of teaching staff in Catholic schools in Scotland lies with the bishop of the diocese and his delegates.

Why am I being asked to be

a referee?

To ascertain whether a candidate is suitable

for a particular post, we ask for two referees.

A referee in the case of the approval process

for teaching posts in Catholic schools is someone

who knows the candidate well enough to give some indication as to their character

and religious beliefs.


The referee is not being asked to comment on their professional ability or qualification as a teacher.


Any information or comments made on the candidate will be kept in the strictest confidence

and will follow the diocesan policy in its compliance with regulations concerning the safeguarding

of personal data 

When Catholic candidates approach priests

for a reference

Parish or assistant priests are asked to give references only to people that they know.  Usually, the priest will be a priest of a parish where the candidate lives. If a priest is asked for a reference from someone who attends his church regularly but does not actually reside in their parish, then, as long as that priest is satisfied as to their practice and knows them reasonably well, they can be considered, within

the Diocese of Dunkeld, as their primary referee. 


It may be courteous and advisable, wherever possible, for said priest to notify the parish priest

of the parish in which the candidate resides so as to ‘keep everyone in the loop’, as it were.

In each case,the priest is asked to re-familiarise himself with the ‘Charter for Catholic Schools’,

a copy of which should be given to him by the candidate and can be downloaded here.

If the person applying for a post in the Catholic school is not known to the priest who has been asked for a reference, the priest must refuse to give the reference, even if the family is known to him.

It could be considered illegal to give a reference for someone not known to the referee.

In the case of a non-practicing Catholic, then

that person is encouraged to have a conversation

with their church representative.

If the person applying for the post is known

to the parish priest, and he (or another priest) is happy to give

a reference as to their religious belief

and character, then this is permissible and may even lead

to closer ties. Again, they should have to hand a copy

of the ‘Charter for Catholic Schools.’

Non-practicing Catholic

Practicing Catholic

It may be that the candidate is a practicing Catholic and is known to another priest, or the previous parish priest, or some other person, in which case they can be encouraged to approach that individual.


If the individual concerned is a non-practicing Catholic and is unknown to the priest, they can be pointed to another type of referee. 

When someone other than a priest is approached

to give a reference

A candidate for a teaching post in a Catholic school may approach a professional person who knows them well enough to attest to their religious belief and character. If someone is approached to offer

a reference, it may be by someone who is asking them to be a ‘second referee’ or, in the case

of someone who is not a Catholic or a Catholic who does not attend church, they may be asked

to be the primary referee.


If you are comfortable with this, in that you know the person well and have some idea of what working in a Catholic school entails, this may not be too onerous. However, it may be that you do know

the person but have little idea of what working in a Catholic school involves or be unsure

of the suitability of the person for such a post. 

The referee is not being asked to make a moral judgement on
the person but to attest to their suitability for a particular post,
in so far as they are able. 

The Church is asking a great deal of such a referee and appreciates the time you take

to consider the matter carefully. The candidate should have provided you with a copy

of the ‘Charter for Catholic Schools.’ If they did not, then please ask them for a copy. 


A referee is being asked to give some indication of the candidate’s religious belief and character.

The Church, as with other institutions simply asks for honesty in references. For example, the candidate may be a perfectly good person and/or a close friend but if the referee has certain knowledge that

they do not support Catholic schools or are averse to Catholicism, then it is inappropriate for them

to be teaching in a Catholic school.


If you are unsure of what is being asked of you, then please contact the church representative

for the council in which lies the school to which the candidate has applied.


Below is a list of church representatives.


Many thanks for taking the time to give a reference and to read this document.



Miss Lesley Hood, 

4 Edradour Place Arbroath DD11 5JX




Fr Michael Freyne MHM, St Bernadette’s, Baingle Brae, Tullibody FK10 2SG





Mr George Haggarty,

7 Cambustay Gardens, Broughty Ferry,

Dundee DD5 2SR





Mrs Margaret McFarlane, 3 Elgin Street,

Dundee, DD3 8NL





Mrs Moira Leck,

42 Denoon Terrace, Dundee, DD2 2EB



bottom of page