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 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 for writing a personal statement that will wow assessors.
- 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 to shine through. It’s therefore really important that you take the time to get it right.
We recommend making a start on your application at least a few weeks before you’d like to submit it, to ensure you have plenty of time to work on it gradually.
- Write it in a separate document
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 mention. 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
Checking how your personal statement should be structured will help you to make lists. 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.
- Add details
Flesh out the points on your list by adding notes, specific examples or phrases. Then, 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? 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.
- Final checks
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 an Apply form before you can accept the offer. Having your statement saved will come in handy.
We wish you all the best with your personal statement and teacher training application.
If you need any further advice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.