Your written application

Your written application

Once you’ve got some school experience and made the important decisions about the subject and age group you want to teach, you’ll need to start thinking about your written application. This is your chance to make yourself stand out to schools or universities, and these tips should help you do just that.

Writing your personal statement

When you submit your application via the UCAS Teacher Training portal, you’ll need to write a personal statement. You need to make a big impression, but the space on the form is limited to 4,000 characters, split across a maximum of 47 lines, including spaces and line breaks – so use it wisely.

A good statement should highlight your personal strong points and how you can bring these to teaching. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach, so you should avoid empty clichés or generic statements that don’t say something about you as an individual.

We have a handy list of things to keep in mind, but as a general guide, it’s a good idea to cover key points such as:

  • your reasons for wanting to teach – and, more specifically, why you’ll enjoy teaching your chosen subject and/or age group. What qualities do you have that will work well in the classroom?
  • your understanding of the rewards and benefits of becoming a teacher
  • how previous studies and any work experience relate to your chosen subject or age group. Make sure you give examples of what you have learnt from your experience, and how it will have a positive effect on your teaching
  • what you’ve learnt during your school experience placements and how this has influenced your application
  • how you’ve benefited from any other experience that you may have of working with children or young people – for example as a classroom assistant, or running a youth group or sports club

Provide plenty of evidence of your skills and qualities. Communication, motivation, organisation, creativity, responsibility and reliability are all important skills for teachers – so offer examples of times when you have successfully demonstrated your ability in these areas.

Don’t copy from someone else’s statement or from statements posted on the internet – UCAS screens all submissions and will know if the work you’ve presented is not your own.

The UCAS Teacher Training form also includes a separate section where you provide details of your school and work experience, which we cover below in more detail. Bear this in mind if it will help keep you within the character count.

Providing details of your school and work experience

You can add as many examples of school and work experience to the UCAS form as you like. This can include work placements and observations, as well as any paid and unpaid work. When you add an example, you can provide an accompanying description of up to 500 characters, detailing what was involved. In this section you should also include any reasons for leaving jobs, as well as consequent gaps in employment.

Make sure you take the time to give a clear outline of your experiences and when they happened. You can also highlight any skills from previous work that could be applicable to teaching, although if the character limit restricts you then you may choose to include this in the personal statement section.

If you feel like you need to expand on your professional background, you can also send the schools or universities you apply to your CV, or a summary of your work history. You can only do this after you have submitted your application and received a welcome email from UCAS, as you will need to include your Personal ID.

If you’re applying for the School Direct Training Programme (salaried) – which is mainly aimed at career changers with at least three years’ work experience – this part of the form can be important for demonstrating your eligibility.

Some schools may accept applications from high-quality graduates with fewer than three years’ experience onto the salaried programme, especially in maths, physics, chemistry, languages and computing. You can check with individual training providers about this before applying.

The next steps of your application

As part of your application, you will need to include two references to complete your submission to UCAS Teacher Training. Visit our submitting your application page to find out more about the requirements for referees and the final stages of the application form process.

Find out how you can write a great teaching application from a range of teaching professionals. Transcript (PDF, 114KB)

Make sure you proofread and check it thoroughly to avoid mistakes that could cost you a place on a course.

Stephen Mitchell, newly qualified primary teacher

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