February 28 is the deadline for teachers to hand in their notice to leave at Easter, so over the next few weeks there will be a lot more jobs going for new teachers and those in training. Applications usually have to be in within two weeks of any advertisement, so there's no time to hang around.
Your personal statement is what will get you shortlisted, so you need to give it your best shot. Start by thinking what the headteacher wants to know. This varies, although basically it's variations on a theme.
A few schools don't give any person specification or job description, so all you have to go on is what's in the advert and what you find out about the place.
Don't be put off when adverts say things like "flair, creativity and a strong commitment towards pupils achieving their full potential are a prerequisite for applying". Schools always ask for God's gift to education but, in reality, they'll make do with the best they can get.
Make sure your statement covers subject knowledge, professional development, personalisation, planning, assessment, special education, differentiation, teaching strategies, behaviour management, classroom organisation, display, parents and equal opportunities.
Redland Green, a new school in Bristol, seems organised in its recruitment.
Its website includes a job description and separate person specification.
The latter lists the experience, professional development, skills, attributes and dispositions, and knowledge and understanding that are essential ("creativity, originality, ability to think and act innovatively") and desirable ("able to contribute to second subject teachingcross-curricularenrichment work").
Your application will be judged against the selection criteria, so use the same headings and include examples of relevant experience. Convey the sort of teacher you are by describing a specific lesson: how you planned it, following the curriculum but also using your knowledge of what the pupils could and couldn't do; what they learned, etc.
The reader will be assessing, among other things, your writing skills, so have a punchy start, create a letter which is individual to that school, and be concise - a page or two at most. Take care with the layout and remember that the smallest spelling or grammatical error might mean your form is relegated to the bin, so proofread it, get someone else to check it - and then check it again Sara Bubb's book Helping Teachers Develop is published by SageTES, Pounds 16.99. She regularly answers your NQT questions on our forums at www.tes.co.ukstaffroomnew_teachers