References are an essential and valued part of the application process. Here, we outline the information you’ll need to provide a helpful reference.
If you’ve been asked to provide a reference, you’ll receive an email with a link to the reference system, along with a username and password.
Applicants have to supply the names and contact details for two referees:
- a principal referee
- a second referee
- We ask applicants who are at university or college, or who’ve finished their degrees within the past five years, to name a tutor or lecturer who can comment on their academic achievements and personal qualities. If it’s relevant, you’re asked to give an indication of their predicted results as well.
- Applicants who finished their degrees more than five years ago can still use an academic tutor or lecturer as a referee. However, they could name someone else who knows them well enough to speak confidently about their qualities, like an employer or careers adviser.
We ask applicants to name a person who knows them well enough to comment on their character and suitability for teaching.
- Applicants for School Direct (salaried) programmes must name an employer who knows them well and who can comment on their experience and suitability for teaching.
- If either reference comes from a school in which the applicant has worked or done observation, it should come from the Headteacher.
Providing a reference
Applicants can’t submit their applications until both references are attached, and programmes may close while they are waiting. It’s therefore important you complete the applications as soon as you can.
- If you’ve been named as a referee, we’ll send you an email asking for the reference. This will provide you with a username and password to access the referees’ system.
- The referees’ system allows you to view all the information on the application. It’ll also give you detailed guidance on how to write your reference and send it to us.
- When we receive your reference, we send you an email to confirm that it’s been added to the application.
- If we haven’t received your reference within 14 days, we’ll send you an email reminder. After we’ve done this, the applicant can also send you reminders through ucas.com (once every 24 hours).
What to include
Find out more about the applicant:
- what subject and age group the applicant wants to teach
- what training routes they have applied for
- when they want to send their application to us — they'll need your reference before they can do this
- whether you’re their principal or second referee
Consider these factors, particularly if you’re a principal referee:
- academic achievement and potential, including predicted results or performance
- ability to communicate clearly in written and spoken English
- suitability for the courses or subjects they’ve chosen
- factors that might have influenced performance or may do so in the future
- personal qualities such as motivation, ability to analyse, communication skills and independent thought
- suitability for teaching
- whether you are aware, or not aware, of any child protection issues
- any contextual information which might warrant special consideration. This could include individual circumstances – e.g. mature student, disability, widening participation activities, or information about your university or college which may affect performance, such as significant staff changes, or damage to buildings
- any mitigating factors that might affect their performance for example serious, acute or chronic illness or significant adverse personal circumstances (with applicant consent)
- any other relevant interests or activities
How to provide the reference
Enter (or copy and paste) your reference and predicted results into the boxes on the referees’ system.
- For the reference, you have 4,000 characters or 47 lines of text, and for predicted results, you have one line of text.
- Please save regularly because it will time out after 35 minutes of inactivity.
- You can write the reference in Welsh if the applicant is applying only for training programmes in Wales.
- If you’re writing an application for an international applicant, please write in English. If English isn’t their first language, please comment on their ability to read and write in English, and whether any of their academic courses were taught in English.
- You can use some European characters in your reference. Some of these will be substituted with UK equivalent characters. Check our Extended character sets substitutions for more details.
- We recommend you save a copy of the reference for your records.
- If you think that any part of the application has false, misleading or missing information, you must let us know. If this is the case, the application can be cancelled and any offers withdrawn without refunding the application fee.