I read hundreds of UCAS applications for teacher training every year and I cannot stress how important the personal statement is. It is my only insight into who you are and I tend to read it first.
I immediately look for a passion to teach. Personal statements that do not mention children or schools are not a good idea. If you have gained school experience, tell me about it. Do you have a clear vision of primary education? What have you found out? If you are changing careers then tell me about your experience and how it is relevant to working within a school.
Spelling, punctuation, and grammar. It DOES matter so check it through carefully and then do this again. Get someone to proofread it for you. If you cannot model a good level of writing here then I have a real concern about you doing so in a classroom. Check for long sentences, repeated words, and that you have used the correct...
This is part two of my blog where I’ve been looking back and reflecting on my experiences of initial teacher training. You can read about my initial worries in part one, but as my training draws to a close, here’s what I wish I’d known before I started.
What advice would I give myself now if I could go back?
Wellbeing - I can’t stress this enough. ITT is hard. NQT year is hard. First year as a qualified teacher is hard. So is the second year. It gets easier but it never gets easy. You must look after your own wellbeing. Twitter is a fantastic way of doing this. There are thousands upon thousands of optimistic, helpful teachers willing to help you out with anything. Take the scheme of work I mentioned in...
As my initial teacher training (ITT) starts to draw to a close, I thought it would be a good time to look back and reflect on my experiences so far; how far have I come, what do I know now that I wish I’d known two years ago. It’s also the time when new ITT prospects will be getting nervous about their applications, and so I thought it might help for me to put this in writing; even if it only helps one person then I’ll consider it a useful way to have spent my time.
My initial worries and what I think of them now
I remember worrying about a few things when I first got into teaching. Things that seemed so simple to every teacher I’d ever met, so much so that most of them never seemed to notice it. So here are a few of those things that niggled me:
Something inside you has persuaded you that becoming a teacher is your career choice; it could be that you have been a cub, brownie, guide or scout leader, working with young people. Gymnastics, swimming, dance, various sports all encourage young people to undertake coaching courses with the idea of sharing skills with young children. Leading or taking part in holiday schemes have led to the career choice. My favourite was a prospective candidate talking animatedly about helping children with disability to overcome fear and attempt to climb.
It doesn’t have to be one of these routes. Many people enter teaching later in life, having had an initial career and seek greater job satisfaction; some will have had families. Often they have had a transitional route via a teaching assistant role or as a helping parent in school. This, in itself, sometimes leads to a school persuading them to pursue the route to becoming a teacher.
You might have heard stories about unconditional offers, and how a friend-of-a-friend’s next-door neighbour’s cousin received one before they got their exam results. In the past this would probably have been an urban myth or at most, not the whole story. However, some universities are now making unconditional offers to exceptional applicants who don’t have their results yet. Some universities and colleges make unconditional offers based on an interview/audition, admissions test or predicted grades.
Here, we explain what you need to consider if you’re thinking about accepting one of these offers.
Having an unconditional offer from your favourite university at an early stage of your application can be very reassuring. It means that if you select them as your firm choice, you will definitely be accepted on to the course, regardless of what grades you get in the summer.
If you haven’t yet made plans for the next academic year, consider this – you already have everything you need for a unique, fulfilling gap year, right there in your rucksack.
In today’s super-connected world, there is a wealth of knowledge at our disposal. Whether it’s watching YouTube videos, listening to a podcast, or reading a blog, we can now learn almost anything online. All it takes is a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, and an internet connection.
So instead of spending thousands of pounds on an expensive gap-year package, some school leavers are deciding to simply spend that time learning – their way,...
A recent survey showed two thirds of employers look for graduates with relevant work experience because it helps them prepare for work and develop general business awareness. Importantly, one third of employers felt that applicants did not have a satisfactory level of knowledge about their chosen career or job.
To gain a better understanding of a career, organise some work experience or a few days’ work shadowing with an employer. It may not give you time to develop job-specific skills, but it can give you insight into the work involved. It also shows you have motivation and commitment. Some schools, colleges, and universities may be able to organise this for you but if not, research and contact companies yourself.
Alternatively, you could gain relevant work experience as part of a vocational programme, such as a BTEC diploma or apprenticeship. You could also consider an internship, a higher education course which offers a work placement (a sandwich course), or a...
If you’re motivated by your values, have an idea, and want to make the world a better place, social enterprise could be for you.
Social enterprises are businesses or projects people set up to focus on tackling social problems, improve communities, or create opportunities to improve people’s lives. There are various definitions of social enterprise, but a key feature is that they have a social or environmental objective – they’re driven by values.
You may recognise these examples of social enterprises – The Big Issue, One Water, the Eden Project, Divine Chocolate, and Jamie Oliver’s ‘Fifteen’ restaurant.
They make a profit and make a difference. Yes, they need to succeed and make money, but a key feature of many social enterprises is that half or more of the profit they make is reinvested into sustaining or growing the business. They often receive income from grants and donations, but also generate income from trading or delivering...