Writing a personal statement for a teacher training application can be daunting, especially if it’s been a few years since you’ve had to write something like this. Whether you’re applying through UCAS, Apply or through a provider’s website, this is your chance to show that you’d make a great trainee teacher. Here are our top tips to ensure you make the most of this opportunity:Start early
Your personal statement is a way to demonstrate your ability to communicate effectively and clearly, a key skill for teachers, and it’s the only part of your application that allows your personality shine through. It’s therefore really important that you take the time to get it right, so get started on it a few weeks before you want to submit your application.
Work on a draft
Have a document open that you can work on and come back to, rather than trying to type something straight into the application form. This way, you can send it to others for feedback and proofreading, ensuring it’s in the best possible shape before pasting it into the application.
Make a list
If the blank page in front of you seems intimidating, start by writing a list of things that you want to include in your personal statement. This could include:
- Why you want to become a teacher, and why you want to teach your chosen subject
- Your understanding of teaching as a profession
- Any experience working in schools, or any other work with young people, such as coaching a sports team or volunteering at a summer camp
- The skills you have that are transferable to teaching, such as presentation skills or leading a team
If you’re applying through Apply, the statement is split into ‘Vocation’ (why you should be considered for teacher training) and ‘Subject knowledge’ (why you should be considered for teaching your subject), so you’ll need to bear this in mind at the offset. If you’re applying through a provider’s website, check if they need you to structure your statement in a certain way.
Flesh out the points on your list by adding notes, specific examples or phrases you want to mention. Once you’ve done that, take one point at a time and use it to form a sentence or paragraph. Don’t worry about perfecting it at the moment – that will come later. Just make sure that what you’re saying is a fair representation of you and your experience – don’t be afraid to be enthusiastic about your passions and achievements, but equally, don’t exaggerate.
You should now have a page of writing, separated into a few paragraphs. Give the whole document a read through to see how it flows. You might need to rearrange the order of your points, or add linking words to ensure a smooth transition from one point to the next.
This is also a good time to think about how you start and end your statement. A good personal statement will draw the reader in with the first sentence and conclude with a memorable ending. Your ending might sum up your unique qualities, or emphasise why you want to join the profession.
Check the length
Is your statement within the word limit? For UCAS, you can use up to 47 lines of text (4,000 characters) in your personal statement, whilst for United Teaching, we ask for up to 200 words. If you’re a long way over or under the limit, you’ll have to consider taking out or adding in some paragraphs. You might think that being far below the limit isn’t as bad as going over, but providers may infer from this that you don’t have enough to say, or that you haven’t made an effort to add more detail. A good place to aim would be between 90-100% of the word limit.
Proof, proof, proof!
Correct spelling, grammar and punctuation is of the utmost importance when applying for teacher training, so don’t just rely on a spellchecker. If you’re not sure about something, look it up or ask someone you trust.
This is the perfect time to get trusted friends involved – often, a fresh pair of eyes will help you spot spelling and grammar errors that you might not have noticed. You can also ask them to check the content – questions you could ask are:
- Does my passion for teaching/my subject/working with young people come across?
- Do my examples demonstrate what I want them to?
- Do I need to explain anything more clearly?
If you know any teachers, you could also ask them to read it and give you some feedback.
This is it! You’ve put the hard work in and you’re almost there. Do a final check to make sure you’re close to the word count but not above it. Now you can copy and paste it into your application form. Check whether the formatting of your statement is correct in the box you’ve pasted it in – you may need to add your paragraph spaces in again.
Keep it safe
Make sure you’ve got your personal statement document saved and you know where you’ve saved it. If you’re applying through a provider’s website (such as United Teaching) and they end up offering you a place, they may ask you to complete a UCAS/Apply form before you can accept the offer. This means if you’ve got the statement to hand, you can use it here as well.
We wish you all the best with your application! If you need any further advice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.