Obtaining school experience is not an entry requirement for teacher training courses like the PGCE. Having some experience in a school can help you decide if teaching is the right career for you and could help to strengthen your application regardless of which route you choose.
Your personal statement is vital to the success of your application and must be well written and have a logical structure. It should also be mistake free, clearly demonstrate your reasons for choosing teaching and your commitment and suitability for it.
Easier said than done in 47 lines – you have to make every word count!
A short introductory paragraph: What is your motivation? What has influenced your decision to teach? Try and avoid clichés along the lines of “I believe that children are the future”!
What interests and excites you about this subject or particular age range?
For primary you need to show an awareness of what you will be teaching and how your qualifications will assist.
For secondary in particular you need to show that you are passionate about your subject area and about transmitting that passion to the young people. How can you demonstrate this?
This is the most important part of your statement. You should not just list what you did (that is the purpose of the work experience section), but what you learnt from it. What has it taught you about the rewards of being a teacher as well as the stresses and strains of the role? Admissions tutors want to see that you have a realistic idea of the job and are looking for your ability to reflect on your time in schools and analyse it.
Please note: even if you do not have much/any recent school experience you still need to demonstrate an understanding of the role of a teacher in a UK secondary or primary school and show that you have the skills required.
Some examples of topics that you may have observed, or been involved in yourself:
When you’re giving examples of specific lessons, you may have observed or helped out with, you could use the STARR technique to give a fully evidenced example. Eg:
Situation: When I was at _____ school in a year _______ class.
Task: What was the learning objective of the lesson/activity?
Action: How did the teacher/you communicate the idea & engage the children? What methods were used?
Result: How did it go? How did you/the teacher evaluate how it went?
Reflect: What did you learn from this, what would you do differently next time?
Include some of these within your description of your time spent in schools or carrying out other activities. For example:
How does your degree relate to the subject that you intend to teach? How will the skills and knowledge gained help you in the classroom? (Research the National Curriculum so you know what you’ll be teaching!)
Are there any particular modules or projects that relate to the curriculum? Emphasise IT skills gained. If you are applying for Primary and have taken a non-National Curriculum degree but do have some National Curriculum subjects at ‘A’ level it could be appropriate to talk about these.
You also need to demonstrate that you understand that a PGCE is a rigorous and challenging course.
Have you done any:
Emphasise any leadership roles or any activities where you were communicating ideas and motivating young people.
Have you had any other jobs that are worth mentioning? Which transferable skills have you developed from them. E.g. planning, time management, teamwork, problem solving etc.?
Do you have any other skills that would be useful as a teacher and could make your form stand out? - e.g. sport, music, art, language skills, drama, computing. Do you have any hobbies that would “add-value” to a school and could make a great contribution to the school community/out-of-school clubs etc.? This type of skill/achievement can really get the admissions tutors interested in you as it demonstrates a bit of personality and positively differentiates you from other candidates.
A very short conclusion: What is your goal for your teaching career? Where do you see yourself in the future? End on a high note!
The teacher training section of the UCAS site contains lots of useful information to help you complete your form: UCAS | Teacher Training.
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