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 version of words like practice/practise or advice/advise. If this is making you scratch your head then look them up!
How committed are you to training? Try to make this come through. Mention how your interest in training to teach developed, what you have done to pursue it? Demonstrate your enthusiasm for it. What are you hoping to get out of the training year? Show that you’ve really done your research and know why you want to do the course.
It is easy to list the transferable skills that you have but these are so much better when you link these briefly to real examples of when you have used them.
If you are struggling to get started then start with your strengths, focus on your enthusiasm for the course and talk positively about yourself.
Claire Harnden is Director of Initial Teacher Training at Surrey South Farnham SCITT. She has 19 years’ experience working in primary and secondary schools in Surrey, Essex and North London. She currently runs Surrey’s largest school-based provider of primary initial teacher training, and interviews applicants on a weekly basis. Follow her on Twitter @ssfSCITT.
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