This is the second in a series of three blog posts on becoming a teacher – the first is on looking for a job and the third is on interviewing.
After doing your homework on a school and investigating if the role is right for you, the time will come to complete the application form.
Most schools will ask you to complete an application form as your way of applying. However, some may ask for an application form and covering letter or, on a very rare occasion (often if recruiting through an agent or if it is an independent school), a school may ask for a CV and covering letter. Regardless of what they ask for, you will need to craft a personal statement. This is often the biggest section of the application form.
Adding colour to your personal statement
Writing a personal statement is one of the questions I get asked about most often. This is your chance to sell yourself and show what you have done and what you can do.
Every job advert will have a person specification – this is your guide, your structure, if you will. If you demonstrate all the elements of the person specification, the school will call you for an interview (however, keep in mind that if they receive 40 applications for one job and they all match to the person specification, whether or not you are called to interview will depend on the depth at which you demonstrate these elements).
Everyone who applies will share examples of how they have taught lessons, how they have developed behaviour management skills and how they have contributed to the wider school life – what you need to demonstrate is the impact of these activities. If you have utilised specific approaches during sessions, why did you use that approach, and what was the impact on the learners? Being able to demonstrate impact shows that you are reflective and that you are taking ownership of your own development.
Show how you will add to the school. For example, the school may promote forest schools as a key element of their offer. If you have had experience of forest schools or are keen to be involved, demonstrate this through your application. Equally if you are a keen baker and have set up and established a cooking club with children, show how this can add to the ‘extensive range of extracurricular provision’ the school offers.
Tailoring your application
Personalise your application to each school. This may seem obvious, but the person specification for most teaching jobs and schools is pretty much identical. This means that you can reuse examples from your experience. However, always proofread before submitting. If you leave the wrong school’s name in your application form, you can’t blame them when it ends up on the ‘no’ pile! Taking the time to show that you know the school goes a long way.
Take a look on Teaching Vacancies – the Department for Education’s job listing service. It was developed with advice from schools’ hiring staff and includes useful insights you can use to tailor your application. One helpful feature is that each job listing includes a ‘school overview’ option, where schools are able to provide helpful information which you can use to help tailor your application. Some overviews even include a video link, so you might be able to see the school environment before you even step foot through the door.
Your application form is also a chance to share any career aspirations. Where do you see yourself in five years’ time? Are there specific subjects that you have an interest in that you may want to lead or take responsibility for? Again, it will give the school a sense of you and for them to think about how they might be able to best support you.
Keep your personal statement to two sides of A4 as a maximum. That way, it will fit as part of an application form, or if a school does ask for a CV and a covering letter, you can use your personal statement for that. The rest of the application form will be a list of your qualifications and previous employment.
Mark your application
Proofread, proofread and double check it! Checking for simple errors or issues with grammar can make the difference to an application form. It demonstrates your subject knowledge if it is well written (or not) and it shows that you take genuine care about what you do.
Don’t get your work in late
Finally – get it in on time! It is important that you meet the deadline. It shows good organisation and time management. However, if for some reason you do spot an advert close to the application deadline, you can make contact and explain that you have only just seen the vacancy. They may have a bit of wiggle room with the deadline – sometimes getting the right people together to shortlist can take a while.
Then begins the wait! Most schools will have a date that if you have not heard by, you can assume that your application has been unsuccessful. Some will contact you to say if you have been unsuccessful at that point. You are entitled to ask for feedback about your application if this is the case. However, let’s be positive!
Visit the Teaching Vacancies service and sign-up for job alerts today to start your job-searching journey.
My next post includes top tips for smashing your interview.