If you want to study for a teacher training degree that leads directly to qualified teacher status (QTS), then you'll need to write a strong personal statement that reflects your ambition and experience.
Remember, if you're applying to a non-QTS degree and planning to qualify as a teacher through the postgraduate route then your experience in schools is less important at this stage, but will be crucial in three years' time.
Degree courses that lead to QTS usually require you to meet certain criteria over and above their entry grades, often asking for you to have built up experience of working in a classroom or learning environment.
Universities may insist that you have a minimum of two or three weeks’ classroom experience, and they will want this to be recent or current. If you have worked in two or more contrasting schools or with different age groups, that’s all the better.
If you've had additional experience of working with children or students in other settings, that may also provide some useful content for your statement, although it won’t be sufficient on its own.
- Outline your classroom experience and reflect on what you did, what you observed, and how it has informed your understanding of the role of teachers, the challenges they face, the nature of teaching and learning, or the interaction between the two.
- Most importantly, describe some of the skills or qualities you’ve seen teachers use in the classroom, and show how you’ve demonstrated some of them yourself.
- Reflect on any effective strategies you have seen teachers use to create a motivating and engaging learning environment, the way they interact with and inspire pupils, the way the classroom is managed, the way behaviour is managed, the way the curriculum is planned, or anything else that has made an impact on you.
- Also reflect on anything significant you have gained from any experience of working with children in other settings.
- Explain why you want to teach, why you are interested in your chosen age range, and (if appropriate) why your specialist subject?
- Say something relevant about your academic studies, and demonstrate your own enthusiasm for learning.
- Mention any personal accomplishments or extra-curricular activities that you might be able to contribute to a school community.
- Expand on any relevant skills or qualities you've demonstrated in a part-time job.
- Comment on any current professional issues you’ve read about in, for example, the Times Educational Supplement (TES).
- Don't forget the basics – the presentation, organisation, coherence, spelling, grammar, and punctuation of your statement will be crucial.
- Don't include bland clichés such as 'I love children,' 'I was born to teach,’ 'I am passionate about teaching,' 'I have wanted to be a teacher from a young age' – or the word 'babysitting.'
If you are applying for a general degree in education that doesn’t lead directly to QTS, then demonstrate that you understand what the course involves, explain why you’re interested in it, and relate your academic interests and experiences to it.