Before you apply: teaching application form and CV checklist

Vinny Potter from The Careers Group, University of London explains what you should know about a school before you apply for a teaching job and what to expect from the application form.


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This article has been written in partnership with AGCAS.

Preparation is the key to a successful application for a teaching job. Find out what you need to do to maximise your chances of being recruited by the school of your choice to take up work as an early career teacher.

Successful applications for teaching jobs: the basics

The format of your application will vary depending on the employer, but it is always essential to target the recruiter and check what you have written carefully.

  • Target your application to the individual role, showing how you match the job specification.
  • Research the school prior to application.
  • References are essential for teaching applications. Make sure your referees are prepared for requests.
  • Schools may issue an application pack, which contains the application form, job description and information about the school or LA.
  • Most state schools, academies and independent schools will ask you to complete an application form and a personal statement or detailed letter of application.
  • Some independent schools and most agencies invite you to apply either by CV and personal statement or by detailed letter of application.
  • Before sending your application, check and double check your spelling and grammar. Applications can be rejected on this alone.
  • Keep a copy of the form and take it with you if you get an interview.

Your teaching job research checklist

It’s vital to find out as much as possible about the school, and the catchment area it sits in, before you apply.

  • Read the application pack and make sure you provide evidence of your competencies in relation to the essential and desirable requirements.
  • Read the Ofsted reports for the school.
  • Look at the Department for Education achievement tables.
  • Explore the school website – what is the ethos of the school?
  • Visit or call the school, ideally before submitting an application.
  • Search for local news stories about the school.

What to expect from the application form

Local authorities may have a form specifically designed for early career teachers (ECTs). The following sections are usually included in application forms for teaching jobs:


  • Make sure the first course you list is your initial teacher training (ITT), giving your institution and your exact course title. All other courses should be listed in reverse chronological order. You may be asked to give your teacher reference number (TRN).
  • If there is no separate section for school experience gained during your ITT, it can be listed under teaching employment, making it clear that the list refers to school placements rather than employment. Include information about any planned placements you haven't yet done by the time you submit your application.


  • Start with the most recent information first, and only provide details of relevant jobs.
  • You can expand upon your education, teaching experience and employment in your supporting statement.

Leisure activities and interests

  • Emphasise interests and activities that relate to your age or subject specialism or link to potential extracurricular activities that you could be involved in if you are recruited.

Personal statement


  • Normally, the names and contact details of two referees are required.
  • You usually include an academic referee from your ITT course and the head teacher of a school where you did a work placement, the classroom teacher you worked with (primary) or the head of department (secondary).
  • You must obtain your referees’ permission before giving their names.

Criminal convictions

CVs and covering letters for teaching jobs

Check out our example skills-based CV for a first teaching job and traditional CV for a first teaching job for inspiration and guidance.

A CV should be a summary of less than two pages covering:


  • List your ITT with details of achievements, special features, options or projects you have done.
  • If you’re a PGCE student, you should mention relevant modules from your first degree and whether you took any masters degree modules.
  • Other qualifications should then be listed briefly in reverse chronological order.

Teaching experience

Give an overview of:

  • activities undertaken
  • assessment methods used
  • behaviour management strategies
  • support for SEN pupils
  • involvement in activities outside the classroom.

Skills and achievements, interests and referees

  • Highlight points that will match the job advert or the school's requirements, eg sports, IT, music, drama, languages.
  • Include names and contact details for two referees.

Covering letters

  • A covering letter accompanies your CV and is an opportunity to make a connection between you as an individual, your qualifications, interests and experience, and the particular abilities, skills and qualities that the job requires. It is also used to demonstrate your interest in, and knowledge of, the school. The covering letter allows you to expand on details you have mentioned in your CV. This is not to be confused with the more detailed letter of application.
  • If you have already prepared a personal statement as part of your application form, only a brief covering letter is required.

For more information, see our general advice on structuring a CV and covering letter .

This article was last updated August 2021.

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