It's a good idea to get some school experience to help you make the important decision about the subject and age group you want to teach. You’ll then need to start thinking about your written application - this is your chance to make yourself stand out to schools or universities.
Applications for postgraduate primary and secondary teaching courses are made through the DfE Apply System. The Department for Education regulations specify that applications and interviews must be processed within 40 working days of being submitted, so please ensure you are available as much as possible after you have applied.
Our 'Making your application' advice is taken from the Department for Education's 'Get into teaching' website.
When you submit your application via the DfE Apply System, you’ll need to write a personal statement. You need to make a big impression, the 4,000 character statement has been divided into two questions with 600 and 400 word limits.
A good statement should highlight your personal strong points and how you can bring these to teaching. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach, so you should avoid empty clichés or generic statements that don’t say something about you as an individual.
But as a general guide, it’s a good idea to cover key points such as:
- Your reasons for wanting to teach – and, more specifically, why you’ll enjoy teaching your chosen subject and/or age group. What qualities do you have that will work well in the classroom? If you are applying to a secondary route, why are you so passionate about your subject?
- Your understanding of the rewards and benefits of becoming a teacher.
- How previous studies and any work experience relate to your chosen subject or age group. Make sure you give examples of what you have learnt from your experience, and how it will have a positive effect on your teaching
- What you learnt during any school experience placements you may have been on and how this has influenced your application.
- How you’ve benefitted from any other experience that you may have of working with children or young people – for example as a classroom assistant, or running a youth group or sports club.
Provide plenty of evidence of your skills and qualities. Communication, motivation, organisation, creativity, responsibility and reliability are all important skills for teachers – so offer examples of times when you have successfully demonstrated your ability in these areas.
Don’t copy from someone else’s statement or from statements posted on the internet – the DfE form screens all submissions and will know if the work you’ve presented is not your own.
School and work experience
You can add as many examples of school and work experience to the DfE form as you like. This can include work placements and observations, as well as any paid and unpaid work. When you add an example, you can provide an accompanying description of up to 500 characters, detailing what was involved. In this section you should also include any reasons for leaving jobs, as well as consequent gaps in employment.
Make sure you take the time to give a clear outline of your experiences and when they happened. You can also highlight any skills from previous work that could be applicable to teaching, although if the character limit restricts you then you may choose to include this in the personal statement section.
If you’re applying for the School Direct Training Programme (salaried) – which is mainly aimed at career changers with at least three years’ work experience – this part of the form can be important for demonstrating your eligibility.
Some schools may accept applications from high-quality graduates with fewer than three years’ experience on to the salaried programme, especially in maths, physics, chemistry, languages and computing. You can check with individual training providers about this before applying.
The DfE Apply form asks you to provide two referees, without which your application cannot progress. You will need to choose one principal referee and one secondary referee – normally one of the referees will produce an academic reference and the other a professional reference.
Further advice on references can be found at the Get into Teaching website.