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How to write your personal statement for teacher training

In many ways, writing your personal statement for teacher training is not that dissimilar from your original UCAS statement for your undergraduate degree. The character restriction is the same (4,000 characters) and, just as you could only have one personal statement for all of your undergraduate universities, you have the same personal statement for both Apply 1 and Apply 2.

The content should focus heavily on your passion for education and how you see your career developing as a teacher. You should consider the skills you have, and how they make you well equipped for the challenges that lie ahead. Teaching is not an easy career path, and admissions tutors like to see an understanding of this from applicants.

It is fairly common for people interested in pursuing a career in Education to be driven by their own educational experiences. On occasion it is an individual who believed in, or otherwise inspired them, on others it can be more generalised support. You should reflect on your own motivations, and expand upon these in your statement. Everyone’s reasons are slightly different, and it will give the admissions tutors more of an insight into you as an individual- this can help you to stand out.

A number of applicants will have had work experience, either in a school, or working with children in a slightly different environment. It is important for you to talk about this in detail. Perhaps you have worked with children who have learning disabilities, at a youth- or after-school club, or summer camp where the children come from a range of different backgrounds, ages, and abilities. Alternatively, you might have taken part in the School Experiences Programme. Whatever you have done, these experiences will have taught you valuable lessons, and an awareness of the skills you have acquired and developed as a result is key.

Whilst a number of applicants who are looking to enter teaching are able to move to train, and then to work, there are others who, for whatever reason, are unable to relocate. This could be due to personal, or familial circumstances. If you feel that you need to stay in a particular region, it is important to mention that in your personal statement, along with a brief reason. This will help the institutions to which you have applied gain a deeper understanding of your needs, and to support those in whatever ways they can. It is far better to mention your preferences at the point of application, rather than further into the process.

You will probably find, when you consider all of the above points, that it is difficult to write all that you want to say in 4,000 characters or fewer. The first step is to write all that you would like to include, disregarding the limitation. This is to ensure that your foundations of the personal statement are as genuine as possible, and for a career like teaching, that is essential. Once you have this working draft, you should read through it again and see whether there are any obvious sections which could be written more succinctly. Depending on your writing style, you should be able to make at least some cuts on your first read-through of the statement.

Unless time is of the essence, it would be a good idea at this point to take a break from editing, and return to it after a few hours or even a day or two to read through it again. It is likely that, during the time you have had away from the statement, your mind will have been reflecting further on the content, and, even though you may not realise it, you will be thinking about which points to prioritise, and other things you might want to include, and others to delete. This is an important part of the process, and it should, in theory, reduce the number of drafts you have before you have your final version.

When you revisit your statement for a second, or third, time, you should have a much firmer idea of the key points to include. You need to remember that you won’t be able to include everything, but that is the same for the majority of applicants. At this stage, you should prioritise what you think makes you stand out. It might be your reason for deciding to become a teacher, or the experience you have gained, but it is what will help you to shine against the competition.

If you have any friends or colleagues who are teachers, or work in Education more broadly, you might like to ask them to read your personal statement to see if they believe that it captures all of your strengths. At times, it can be difficult to identify exactly what you possess which would make you an excellent teacher. All teachers are different, and asking third parties who know you well can help you to gain some perspective and objectivity.

Ideally, you should give yourself at least a couple of weeks to construct your personal statement, as this will give you time to take breaks between drafts, and this is important to give yourself time to reflect. As with all applications, preparation is key, and if you can identify and focus on your strengths, you should be able to submit a strong personal statement which highlights not just your passion for education and desire to shape future generations, but also the unique skills you have which make you worthy of a place.

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