Personal statement advice: teacher training and education
We asked admissions tutors how you can ensure your personal statement gets top marks and secures you that all-important interview.
Remember, if you're applying to a non-QTS degree and planning to qualify as a teacher through the postgraduate route (PGCE, School Direct or SCITT), then your experience in schools is less important at this stage but will be crucial in three years' time.
For more personal statement advice, see our article on 10 things to include – plus, here's everything you'll need to get writing your personal statement.
Teaching training: experience is essentialDegree 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 probably want this to be recent or current - not just the two weeks you might have done back in Year 10. 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 learners in other settings, that may also provide some useful content for your statement, although it won’t be sufficient on its own.
How to expand on your classroom experience
Your insight into what it is to be a teacher is crucial. Here are some tips we’ve picked up from universities on how to expand on your experiences in your personal statement:
- 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.
More teacher training statement dos and don'ts
- Do explain why you want to teach, why you are interested in your chosen age range and (if appropriate) why your specialist subject?
- Do say something relevant about your academic studies and demonstrate your own enthusiasm for learning.
- Do mention any personal accomplishments or extra-curricular activities that make you the person you are and that you might be able to contribute to a school community.
- Do expand on any relevant skills or qualities you've demonstrated in a part-time job.
- Do 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.