How to write a Teacher Training Personal Statement or School Direct application
A teacher training or School Direct personal statement is a key part of any initial teacher training application. It gives teacher training providers an opportunity to find out more about you – your motivations for pursuing a career in teaching, your reflections on any school experience you have and the skills, competencies, values and attitudes that you bring to the table. What can you offer teaching? What will make you an outstanding teacher who will inspire, engage and challenge pupils? An initial UCAS teacher training personal statement is your chance to sell yourself.
What a personal statement for teacher training shouldn’t be is a list of all your jobs or qualifications – those are set out elsewhere in your application. Nor should it simply be a factual account of what you have observed or what you did in a classroom during your school experience. While it is important to give a brief context, much more important is what you have learnt during your time in school, any skills you have developed and your reflections on what you observed or did. Teacher training providers or School Direct schools need to see that you have thought about your experience carefully. Additionally, it is important that you check your spelling and grammar carefully. You are going to be in charge of educating the next generation – you must have strong written communication skills.
Examples can be a great way of demonstrating what you have learnt
Steer away from overusing general teaching related statements such as “I’ve always wanted to work with children”, especially when writing a primary school teacher training personal statement. Obviously ITT and School Direct providers want to see that you have an interest in working with children but this can be demonstrated through your reflections on what you learnt during any school or similar experience and what you found rewarding about the work. Examples can be a great way of demonstrating what you have learnt, e.g. an example of a project you have worked on or a child you worked with (always remember to anonymise the people involved). What was challenging about the situation, what did you learn and what were the outcomes you achieved?
By all means draw on skills you have gained elsewhere, maybe in a different career field or in your own education or family life. If you have overcome obstacles or challenges that you believe show your resilience and adaptability, draw on that experience to demonstrate how you would handle the pressurised environment of teaching and working in a school.
Your teacher training personal statement should be coherent and well-structured
If you hold a non-subject specific degree and you know you have some gaps in your subject knowledge, it’s a good idea to mention this in your personal statement but to also offer the provider a solution. You can demonstrate that you have done some research and you have already considered a solution to this challenge by mentioning that you would like to do a subject knowledge enhancement course prior to starting your teacher training to bring your knowledge up to the level you need to teach.
There are plenty guides on how to write a personal statement for teacher training which outline the basics, but the most important thing remains your own personal reasons for applying. Be clear about what motivates you. A personal statement which suggests that you have not thought through your reasons for going into teaching will not help your application to succeed. Initial Teacher Training providers are less likely to be concerned about someone who has had a diverse career but is now committed to teaching than someone who says they have always wanted to teach but can’t give clear reasons why. If you’re not currently based in the UK, include reasons why you want to pursue your teaching career here. And last but definitely not least, your personal statement should be coherent and well-structured!
- Draw on your experiences (especially teaching experience) to show what you have learnt and what you will bring to the teaching profession
- Evidence your skills, competencies and values, with relevant examples if possible
- Be clear about your motivations for going into teaching
- Make sure your statement is coherent and accurate
- Don’t copy! Your statement should be entirely your own work; do not copy online examples.
Good luck! Further advice from UCAS can be found here.
Becoming a teacherTeacher Training
My experiences working as a tutor in a tuition centre and volunteering in your school have inspired and motivated me to pursue a teaching career. After graduating from the University of England with a first in biological sciences I taught GCSE and A-level science in a tuition centre for three fulfilling years. I soon learned to update and differentiate my lesson plans to help improve learning outcomes and adapt to changes made in the curriculum. It helped me to think on my feet if students didn't respond to what I had planned and I had to change the focus of the lesson. I worked with students who had poor relationships with their teachers so grades were dropping, teaching me how vital teacher communication is in determining levels of student learning and understanding.
Tutoring a range of students including SEN and EAL to top grades at GCSE and A-level, encouraging them to keep focused and interested, can be challenging. The tuition centre had very little technology so I drew on my problem solving and creative skills to communicate in an engaging way. My role included assisting with their preparation for exams by developing individual comprehensive learning programmes for each pupil and providing consistent practical and pastoral support throughout their educational progress. I find biology fascinating, reading and learning about the subject for my own interest, often thinking about how I can use it with students to give them a broader understanding and make biology more real and meaningful.
Recently I have been fortunate to participate in and observe lessons with you at St Thomas More and have been inspired by the ethos of the whole school. I aim to utilise my existing transferable skills, while developing new skills and partaking more fully in the students' education. It has been interesting to learn about classroom and behaviour management and reflect on how different teachers handle classroom situations combining a sympathetic and assertive approach. I am learning the effectiveness of non-verbal communication in behaviour management, combined with the power of setting a positive tone from the beginning of a lesson. It is encouraging to see this all coming together to create a productive and successful learning environment for the whole class. I have enjoyed gaining experience of teaching a class, working out which teaching style will be the most effective with each class at the time. I hope to observe more strategies to reflect on and try out in the future.
One of the most fulfilling experiences I have gained was volunteering this summer for a month in a small rural school in Benin, Africa. I was teaching English and encouraging them to explore learning through creativity, which we were told was unusual for them. Despite the language differences we were able to get to know, teach and hopefully inspire the children. This confirmed my desire to become a teacher.
At school I was inspired by my teachers, admiring the skill there is in encouraging a whole class to want to achieve their potential. I discovered a passion for teaching science, a subject I now see many children struggle to become interested in. I would enjoy the achievement of encouraging students to appreciate science as it affects us all in so many ways.