When applying for a new job, you may be competing with tens or hundreds of other applicants in a race for the role.
The HR manager or headteacher recruiting for the job will be scrutinising every detail of your application to make sure they are bringing in the right people for interview.
The application form is the first hurdle you have to get over and sets the first impression of you as a person in the recruiter’s mind.
The personal statement: why does it matter?
The personal statement presents the perfect opportunity to show you are an exceptional candidate, understand teaching and know the school you are applying to.
It is not an easy task and is a tricky thing to get right. It requires being concise and clear – it shouldn’t be too long or read like a list.
You should talk about yourself and your professional achievements, while at the same time apply those experiences to the school itself.
We spoke to Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, about what goes into the perfect personal statement. Here's what he said:
What does a great teaching personal statement look like?
"In general, I would say no longer than two sides of A4 – typescript. It needs to be well structured and linked to the specific school. It will need to include a number of key areas, including behavioural management, educational philosophy, subject expertise, pedagogy, personal organisation and skills and enrichment activities that the candidate can bring."
What should it contain?
"I would recommend that candidates include three elements in each of the key areas:
- What their beliefs/philosophy/approach is – i.e., the theory
- Their experience in that area
- How they would use that experience in the school they are applying to and specific to the job they are applying for
The statement should also include something personal in terms of their outside interests to indicate that they live an interesting and well-balanced life."
What are school leaders looking to read in a good personal statement?
"They will want to see something of the person’s character come through. It must not be just a list of achievements or repeat of the CV. It needs to be well-written, error-free and mention the school they are applying for – but not too many times. It should read as if it has been specifically written for the school and job they are applying for. I would be looking for something similar to the approach I have indicated above, covering all of the key areas and indicating that they have a vocation for working with young people. Somehow I would like to see a ‘generosity of spirit’ come through in the statement."
How can a candidate stand out in a personal statement?
"A good personal statement needs to include something of the person themselves. It has to make the reader believe that the candidate has something special without bragging or appearing arrogant – but something a bit above what other candidates may offer. A really good introduction and ending are important, and it's worth spending a great deal of time crafting those sections of the statement. Hook the reader in at the beginning and finish on a high note so that they want to meet the person and explore what has been written."
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