How to write a teacher personal statement

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When hiring a teacher, schools will ask applicants for a summary of their education, qualifications and employment history. Once those particular boxes are ticked, what they’re really keen to know is the person behind that information.

Teaching is a profession that’s all about personality, and your personal statement is the first opportunity for you to get yours across.

What is a personal statement?

Your personal statement should sell yourself to the school you’re applying to. As well as explaining why you’re interested in the role, you need to show how you’re able to apply various teaching methods, motivate pupils and demonstrate subject knowledge.

Your skills and experience should allow the reader to see why you’re the perfect fit for what they’re looking for.

It’s a crucial part of your application, so it’s worth taking your time on it.

If you’ve not written a personal statement since you first applied for teacher training, now’s the time to update it. Where you once wrote about why you wanted to become a teacher in the first place, you will have since experienced unique situations and developed certain beliefs about the right way to teach, which is what hiring schools want to hear.

What should you include?

Unless the job advert requests a specific length, a teacher’s personal statement should be around 300-500 words. This should give you enough space for strong opening and closing statements, separated by a short explanation for why you’re right for the job.

Your opening statement needs to be short, strong and simple to gain the reader’s attention.

It may be useful to leave writing the first sentence until after you’ve finished the rest of your personal statement. That should give you a clear idea of your selling points, making it easier to summarise.

Requested information

Before writing your personal statement, establish whether the school has asked for anything to be included. This could be general (“demonstrate how you meet the requirements set out in the job role”) or specific (“include an example of a difficult situation you’ve overcome”). Either way, make it clear and obvious what your response to this is so the school can see you’ve thoroughly read and understood the job description.

Your general approach to teaching

How do you identify mistakes and provide feedback? Are your methods more teacher or student-centred? How do you find the right balance between instruction and discussion? Every school interprets the national curriculum in a unique way, and you should find out as much about the school as possible and show that your teaching philosophy is compatible with theirs.

Take a look through guidance on teachers’ standards to see what schools are looking for from candidates.

Something that makes you stand out

The nature of teaching means that it’s likely others applying for the role will have a similar academic and employment background to you. But everybody has different experiences and strengths. Think back through your career about a moment when you really excelled, an attribute you’ve particularly worked on, or knowledge you’ve transferred over from a career you’ve had outside the teaching profession.

You’re only a teacher some of the time. If you take part in any activities outside the classroom that could be seen as having a connection to your career, be sure to mention them. Being involved in clubs or giving up your spare time to volunteer could all be seen as adding value by the school you’re hoping to join.

Any relationship you have with the school

Schools want to be confident the potential new teacher joining, has an understanding of the school environment. Mention any visits you’ve made to the school, your local knowledge, or if any of your own children have been (or currently are) students.

What should you not include?

Irrelevant information

Recruiters want to know that you’re capable of fulfilling the role that they’ve advertised. They don’t need to read your entire biography. Keep the details to the point, and be ruthless when deciding what areas of your experience you should be sharing.

Repetitive information

If you’ve completed an application form or submitted a CV, there’s no need to add the same information in your personal statement. You can refer to certain elements where necessary, but treat this as a complementary piece.

Any mistakes

This should go without saying, but be meticulous with your personal statement. Spelling errors, incorrect use of punctuation and poor grammar are red flags in any job application, but especially for teachers. Don’t rely on your computer’s spell checker for the final review, and don’t be afraid to ask someone else to take a look. As any good teacher knows, you shouldn’t mark your own homework.

Text copied from elsewhere

Hiring staff see a lot of job applications and will know immediately when they’ve come across a sentence before. Some may even have access to a plagiarism checker which they won’t be afraid to use on your application.

While it’s acceptable to reuse your own personal statement on multiple job applications with a few tailored adjustments, it should always be your own unique words. While you may find examples of teacher personal statements online, it’s important to remember they are just examples.

How do you end a personal statement?

Your ending needs to be strong. A weak ending could undo all the excellent work you have put into your statement. Make it credible, logical and emotional to give you the best chance of getting that interview and being the successful candidate.

Do school hiring staff read personal statements?

Research shows that this is the first piece of information hiring staff turn to when sifting through applications.

Having all the necessary qualifications and a solid employment history can only get you so far, especially when competition is high.

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