How to write a great personal statement for a teaching job
Vinny Potter from The Careers Group, University of London gives tips on what to cover in your personal statement when you apply to work as a teacher and how to present your skills, knowledge, experience and beliefs.
This article has been written in partnership with AGCAS.
Your personal statement is the heart of your application for work as an early career teacher and should be tailored for each role. For teaching applications this is sometimes also called a letter of application, but it is essentially the same thing. This is your opportunity to provide evidence of how you match the needs of the specific teaching job you are applying for, and earn yourself an invitation to the next stage, which is likely to be a selection day held at the school.
Writing tips for personal statements
When completing a personal statement for a teaching job you should usually observe the following guidelines:
- Do not exceed two sides of A4, unless otherwise instructed.
- Tailor your statement for each new application according to the nature of the school or LA and the advertised role.
- Always read any guidance provided – many schools and LAs will tell you how they want this section set out.
- Emphasise your individual strengths in relation to the role.
- Use the person specification for the vacancy as a structure for your statement or consider using the government's Teachers' Standards if no person specification is provided.
- For a pool application, make sure you give a good overview of your skills and experience.
- It is essential that you give specific examples of what you have done to back up your claims.
When schools recruit, they write a job description which states the essential attributes they are looking for. This is their marking criteria for the job. So when they read your statement, they will usually score this based on their essential and desirable criteria. Therefore, you need to read their documents carefully to find the criteria and provide an example or evidence of each point. If the job advert does not include any documents which include their criteria, then you can use the following structure for your statement and use the Teachers’ Standards as a guide for the criteria they may be looking for.
What you should cover in your personal statement
Why you are applying for the role:
- Refer to any knowledge you have of the LA or the school, including any visits to the school and what you learnt from them.
- Mention any special circumstances, for example, your religious faith, which you think are relevant.
Details about your course:
- Give an overview of your training course, including the age range and subjects covered, and any special features.
- If you are a PGCE student, mention your first degree, your dissertation (if appropriate), any classroom-based research projects and relevant modules studied. Also mention if you have studied any masters modules.
Your teaching experience:
- What year groups you have taught.
- What subjects you have covered.
- Your use and understanding of formative and summative assessment practices.
Your classroom management strategies:
- Give examples of how you planned and delivered lessons and monitored and evaluated learning outcomes, including differentiation.
- Explain how you have managed classrooms and behaviour.
- Detail your experience of working with assistants or parents in your class.
Your visions and beliefs about primary/secondary education:
- What are your beliefs about learning and your visions for the future? You could touch on areas such as learning and teaching styles and strategies.
- Reflect on key policies relevant to the age range you want to teach.
Other related experience:
- This can include information about any previous work experience.
- Include training activities you have carried out and ways in which your subject knowledge has been developed.
Other related skills and interests:
- Give details of any particular competencies, experiences or leisure interests, which will help the school to know more about you as a person and could ‘add value’ in a school environment.
- Any involvement in working with children (running clubs, youth work and summer camps) is particularly useful to note.
Aim to end on a positive note. A conclusion which displays your enthusiasm in relation to the specific application and teaching in general will enhance your application, but avoid general statements and clichés.