Teacher training can be very competitive. Read on for graduate careers experts Prospects' guide to the application process, including how to write an outstanding personal statement.
Most teacher training routes across the UK ask for an application form and some sort of personal statement. Before completing your teacher training application form you need to:
- choose your training route, age range and/or subject and provider
- get as much experience as you can in the classroom for the age range you're interested in teaching
- make sure you meet the minimum qualification requirements.
For more help with choosing your pathway, see routes into teaching or how to become a teacher.
How to apply
Postgraduate teacher training applications in England and Wales are made through UCAS Teacher Training (UTT). Allow yourself plenty of time to complete everything, so that you can check your application over before sending it off.
Apply 1: Applicants make up to three choices, all submitted at the same time. This could be one or all three routes of the Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE), School-centred initial teacher training (SCITT) and School Direct. Your choices are simultaneously deliberated by your chosen training providers. You will then be invited to attend an interview or selection day and training providers must decide on the outcome of your application within 40 working days. You must pass the professional skills tests as part of the application process.
When you've received all of your offers, you have ten working days to respond and accept one.
Apply 2: If you don't have any offers from Apply 1 you're able to make further applications, one at a time, for any route. You can keep applying until you're offered a place.
Applications made through UTT will require you to register, set up a login and then submit:
- your personal details, choices, qualifications and details of your professional skills tests, including your candidate number and test dates if you have completed your tests
- a personal statement
- details of your school and work experience
You should have all these details ready before the application window opens. You can start the application in advance and save each section as you fill in the form.
Training providers must open their programme to applicants for a minimum of two weeks and can then decide when to close. Many providers will fill their places before Easter or Christmas, or after 2 weeks. Check the UTT website for guidance and aim to apply as early as possible.
School history and work placements
This is where you evidence your work history, particularly any voluntary or paid time in school, in 500 characters if you are applying through UTT. The School Direct (salaried) route asks for 3 years' work experience. All School Direct programmes ask for your full work history so make sure this shows clearly in your application.
This may not fit in the space provided, however additional details will go into your personal statement. You can send a summary of your work history or a CV to the training providers, after you have submitted your application to UTT and received your UTT personal ID.
This summary should include:
- your school experience, including details of the age groups and subjects you were involved with
- your current job and work history
- time spent abroad, placements and summer jobs
- information to demonstrate your transferable skills, particularly those that would be valuable in the classroom
- the average weekly time you spent in each school or role (in the 'hours per week' section).
Teaching personal statements
This is where you explain why you want to become a teacher and demonstrate your strengths, skills and suitability for teaching.
The UTT personal statement allows for up to 4,000 characters or 47 lines of text with an introduction, main body and conclusion. Write your statement in a Word document and paste it into the box to keep track of the the word limit. You can only submit one personal statement for all your choices. Luckily, training providers will all want similar information from you.
Take your time, be prepared to receive constructive feedback and write a few drafts before you send it off.
It's important to:
- use examples based on your recent teaching experience
- tailor your personal statement according to the school/age group
- use good, clear, written English, using the first person, such as 'my' and 'I'
- be original and honest
- avoid clichés and general statements such as 'I've always wanted to teach'
- demonstrate a passion for teaching.
Before drafting your teaching personal statement, think carefully about what training providers will want to know, such as:
- Why do I want to teach? - show that you know about the challenges and rewards of teaching. Maybe talk about any lessons you have observed/taught, what went well and how you would have improved on them. Discuss teaching styles used and the use of technology.
- Why do I want to teach this age group/at this level? - what appeals to you, use examples of your experience with this group.
- What are my strengths? - include the relevance of your degree and subject knowledge.
- What experience do I have? - include related work experience such as leadership, coaching a sports team, youth work or working at a summer camp. Give examples of how this developed your teaching skills.
- What personal skills/abilities do I have? - for example initiative, resilience, practical experience, creativity, time management, managing people, organisational skills, listening skills, leading or working in a team and dependability.
- Do I have any geographical restrictions? - if you don't currently live in the UK, why do you want to study here?
All applications made through UTT are put through the UCAS Similarity Detection Service, so make sure yours is all original content. Selectors want to get an insight into who you are and why you're suited to teaching.
Find out what it takes to write a good personal statement.
You need to submit the names and contact details of two referees. Typically this is your university tutor, who can write about your academic progress, and someone who knows you from work, preferably in a school context to comment on your potential development as a teacher.
This is an important part of the process as applications can't be sent until you've attached two references. To help speed this up you should contact your referees before you start.
For more information, see UCAS - References for teacher training.
What happens next?
Throughout your UTT application, select 'complete' as you finish each section. Your choices can be amended at any time until you have paid for and sent off your application. A one-off online payment of £24 applied for all 2017 applications in Apply 1 and 2. You can follow the progress of your application through UCAS Track.
During the application process for ITT you're required to pass the professional skills tests for literacy and numeracy. Once you've made your application, you're able to register for these tests and are advised to book them as soon as possible.
Initial skills tests are free, but any resits will cost £19.25. Give yourself the best chance by practicing beforehand, looking at tuition books and trying the mock tests available at Department for Education - Professional skills tests.
The tests are administered by Learndirect at centres across the UK and can be booked up to three months in advance. Slots are regularly added, so continue to check the website if you need a slot, or ring the Learndirect helpline. The skills tests are administered at the interview stage in Wales.
Training providers have 40 days to let you know if you have been accepted through UCAS Teacher Training Apply 1. You've got ten working days after they have all contacted you to respond to any offers and can only accept one offer. You could accept an offer before you hear from them all, but to do this you will need to withdraw from the others. You can even decline them all and use Apply 2 to reapply one at a time for any course that has vacancies.