Although much of the 10-page form is for administration detail, it still came as a shock when the application pack thumped on my doorstep.
What a relief to learn that it is also available in electronic format, although receiving it posed a problem for me and a few other probationers I know. Technology is great when it works.
By far the most difficult aspects were a section that required explanations of present duties and responsibilities and another that required details on managing people, innovative initiatives, communication skills and so on.
The difficulty for probationers, of course, is being able to fill these sections adequately with illuminating events and experiences that you have initiated or developed over the past year. For my part, coping with the curriculum has posed enough of a challenge without adding to the stress by creating innovative initiatives along the way!
There is always the temptation to enhance the truth, but that can lead to your downfall in an interview. It must be a strong temptation to many, though, with the competition for permanent jobs so fierce.
It must have taken the best part of a week to complete my form, typing up answers one night, reading them over the next and ditching them remorselessly, wondering what possessed me to write such impassionate nonsense in the first place.
Like many other people, I am hopeless at selling myself. Give me my sister's cv to write, or my best friend's, or the woman down the street's, and I could make a resume fit for a managing director of Microsoft, but sell myself?
One thing that struck me about the application form was the lack of space left for previous career details outside teaching. The Government has spent a great deal of time and money on marketing careers in teaching to mature professionals in all kinds of industry, but it seems this wealth of experience is only worth a mention under "Other relevant information". I understand that only transferable skills would be taken into consideration, but the addition of a cv, particularly for mature probationers, would allow a panel of interviewers to appreciate the breadth and range of experience that some people bring to teaching.
I did receive some assistance with my application form from both my supporter and my headteacher, who were very diplomatic with my first attempts and offered some useful tips on what and what not to include.
Other probationers I have spoken to have been given very little feedback and advised not to mention previous careers at all, which seems somwehat misguided.
Finally, four attempts later, I finished my form. Contented, if not happy, I sent it off and so await an invitation to interview or a "thanks, but no thanks" reply.
I made sure the Easter holidays were relatively work-free, carrying out my planning prior to the break and reading up on the next environmental studies topics and expressive arts programmes. I don't think I could have done much work over the break or it would have brought me to the brink of collapse.
Never have I been so tired in all my working life. But, ever the optimist, I spent a few hours reading up on local and government education initiatives in preparation for any interview I might be called to attend!