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Blog: 5 top tips for applying for teaching training courses

Kal Hodgson

Blog by:  Kal Hodgson, SCITT Director

Providers of Initial Teacher Education – such as the SCITT I represent, school direct lead schools and University course providers have to sift through large numbers of applications for teacher training courses. The question that every applicant wants answering is this: “How can I ensure my application is considered and not passed over for the next one?”

I have been SCITT director of the Greater Manchester Bright Futures SCITT for two years and in that time I have been involved in every interview for secondary education training posts as well as working very closely with my colleagues on our Primary and Early Years teams. We have built up a clear picture of the kinds of things we expect to see in high quality applications.

We are trying to identify a number of things: a passion for teaching, the potential to teach, subject knowledge, resilience and enthusiasm. Now some of these things can only be truly spotted at interview, but without hints of them applicants may not even make it to that stage. By following these suggestions you could really improve your application.

1) Get your details right

Different providers may have different criteria but all will have academic criteria based around your GCSEs and degree class. For example, except in rare cases we expect our trainee to have at least a 2.2 at degree level. Make sure you meet the criteria and make it easy for providers to tell this. At secondary level we expect approximately 50% of your degree course to be directly related to the subject you want to teach. There’s a myriad of degree courses out there so don’t make us guess about the subject content – use the application form to clearly detail what you’ve studied.

If you have equivalency qualifications for GCSEs or overseas qualifications, providers should be able to give you clear details about what they do or don’t accept. If you are unsure, get in touch before sending your application off. You don’t want to waste one of your choices on a provider who doesn’t accept the qualification you are holding

2) Make the most of school experience

Providers usually ask for school experience prior to your application arriving. We want all of our applicants to have at least two days of school experience, and at least five for our primary applicants. We do this for a number of reasons: first, we want to make sure you are serious about this. Why would someone who wants to become a teacher have not been into a school for years? Secondly, it’s very likely you will be asked to perform some sort of teaching task during your interview. Make the most of what you’ve seen during any school experience days. Steal it, reflect over it and adapt it to your own personality. Evidence you can reflect and learn from others will give you a much greater chance on the day. School based providers such as ourselves can help you gain this vital school experience.

3) Get your references ready

Many applications are delayed waiting for referees to complete their part of the process. Speak to your referees as early as you can. Get them ready and let them know what to expect. A reference from someone working in education is ideal, especially if you’ve got a lot of school experience under your belt, but it is not necessary so don’t worry if you don’t have one. Two professional references will do. It’s useful to have your referees talk about why they think you have the potential to become a teacher, and examples of your passion and resilience too.

4) Work on your personal statement

This is a key ingredient because this is your opportunity to evidence your passion, commitment, experience and resilience. The best teachers are reflective, they can answer the question, “Why teaching?” and detail why they want to teach a particular age range or subject. You should always write about your school experience, but don’t tell us what you did but what you got out of it. What did you learn? What do you need to do next? Finally, make sure someone proof reads it – poor literacy means poor written communication skills and we will reject applications on the basis of that.

5) Prepare for the skills tests

Whilst it is great when applicants arrive having completed the DfE skills tests, it is not a necessity. They will always form part of the conditions of any offer but make sure you’ve read up on them and know a little about them. Teaching is wonderfully rewarding but it can be challenging and we’re looking for evidence you have been preparing for this for by doing your homework. SCITTs such as ours can offer help with these tests, ideal if you’ve not taken a test for some time!

It’s always a pleasure to meet people who want to join this fantastic profession. You can maximise your chance of joining us by making sure your application can demonstrate that it is something you really care about. I’ll look out for your application soon!

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