This is a crucial part of the application and your chance to stand out from the crowd. You have up to 47 lines (4,000 characters including spaces) in which to persuade your chosen initial teacher training (ITT) providers to offer you an interview. The statement must be concise, enthusiastic and sell your potential to be a successful teacher.
What you should include in the personal statement
Providers will be looking for evidence that you understand the realities, rewards and challenges of teaching. You'll be asked to describe your reasons for wanting to teach, and should explain the relevance of your previous education and experience, including teaching, school visits and other work with young people. Consider all of the following points when you are deciding what to include in your personal statement.
Reasons for applying for teacher training
Explain why you've applied to be a teacher and why you've applied for your chosen subject and age group. Demonstrate your commitment and motivation through recent examples from your work experience and academic work.
School experience and what you gained from it
Training providers will want to know how much experience you've had in schools, for example:
- areas of the national curriculum you observed
- age groups you worked with
- subjects you covered
- types of schools you visited and for how long.
Reflect on what you did in any work experience, particularly relating to the national curriculum, and what you learnt from it.
Your work experience and how it relates to teaching
Use the personal statement to give further information on the work experience you listed in the application form. Explain how this experience is relevant to teaching, particularly where you've been working with young people in schools and other contexts such as youth clubs, summer camps or sports clubs. Comment on work experience in other settings, such as voluntary work and extracurricular activities, and show how the skills you gained will help you become an effective teacher.
Reflect on your teaching skills
Think about the skills and qualities needed to be an effective teacher, such as communication, team working and leadership, and how your own experiences have helped you to develop these. Again, use examples from your degree and recent work experience.
If you don't live in the UK currently, explain why you want to study in the UK and, if relevant, provide evidence, through NARIC for example, that your qualifications are at the required standard. Check that your language skills are sufficient to complete the training programme as requirements vary between institutions.
Explain anything not made clear elsewhere on the application, such as reasons for restricted geographical mobility or gaps in your education or working life.
Tips for writing and checking your personal statement
- Remember that you can only write one personal statement for all your choices, so make sure it reflects the route/s you have applied for.
- Give yourself enough time to write a few drafts.
- Write your statement using a word processing package so you can check it for spelling and grammar errors. Cut and paste it into the application form as you go along to make sure you don’t go over your character limit.
- Keep it simple and natural in style.
- Personalise your statement by writing in the first person, using 'me', 'I' and 'my'.
- Use action verbs such as 'coordinated', 'established' and 'managed'.
- Provide evidence of your motivation, experiences and qualifications as well as your understanding of teacher training and the role of a teacher.
- As the word count is limited, make sure each sentence contributes something useful.
- Show your personal statement to a school recruiter, careers adviser or tutor for feedback.
- Copy your application, particularly the personal statement, before sending it so that you can remind yourself of the content when going for interviews.
- Make sure the personal statement is all your own work, as all statements are put through the Copycatch similarity detection system.
Showcasing your experience
A good statement should highlight your strengths and how you can bring these to teaching. Think about what distinct qualities you can bring to the table that will make you an amazing teacher. Your personal statement should convey energy, enthusiasm and a passion for teaching.
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
- the qualities you have that will work well in the classroom – communication, organisation and creativity are all important skills
- how previous studies and any work experience relate to your chosen subject or age group – make sure you give examples of what you’ve learnt from your experience, and how it will have a positive effect on your teaching
- what you’ve learnt during any school experience placements and how this has influenced your application
- how you’ve benefited 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
The UCAS Teacher Training form also includes a separate section to provide details of your school and work experience. This section allows you to highlight the experience you’ve had in a school or work environment. You can include as many examples on the UCAS form as you like. This can include work placements and observations, as well as any paid and unpaid work.
Remember, your personal statement is the core of the application, so it is important to take the time and effort to research and prepare. The word count is tight: the space on the form is limited to 4,000 characters, split across a maximum of 47 lines, including spaces and line breaks so use it wisely.
Finally, you shouldn’t copy from someone else’s statement or from statements posted on the internet – UCAS screens all submissions and will know if the work you’ve presented is not your own.