Having an impressive personal statement can make the difference between getting or not getting that all-important interview. It is vital that your letter should sell you, so plan it carefully to make yourself stand out from the crowd.
Show you have a vision about education: interviewers want someone who can offer something extra and who isn't a clock-watcher. To Barry Hancock, appointments consultant for Redbridge, "the personal statement is the subjective side of the application - an opportunity for teachers to show how and if they can reflect on good practice and put into perspective the skills and qualities outlined in the rest of the application".
Convince the reader that you want the job: if you have a standard letter on file, use it only as a framework. Make sure your letter is pitched precisely at the school. Show that you've read about it and why you've chosen it. If you're applying to a pool, be clear about why you want to work in that particular area.
Make your tone warm, personal and enthusiastic: but not too effusive.
Address each aspect of the job specification. Point out how your degree specialism relates to the teaching you hope to do, and show how you put the theory you learned on your training course into practice during your placements. Draw attention to the year groups you taught, the classroom management skills you developed and experience you gained in planning, evaluation, assessment, behaviour management, whole-class and group teaching, differentiation, special needs, school trips and other areas of particular interest to you.
Relate your experience to the national curriculum: focus on whatever is applicable to the post - how you tackle literacy and numeracy, for example.
Explain how you create a positive atmosphere in your classroom, perhaps by using display. Emphasise your commitment to parental involvement and building professional relationships with other teachers, classroom assistants and education professionals.
Show your initiative: bear in mind that interviewers are looking for clues that suggest a newcomer has initiative. If you can include details of relevant experience outside teaching, such as summer camp work in America, voluntary work, gap-year placements in the UK or abroad, summer and weekend jobs, these will all go down well. Also include any music exams passed or anything you volunteered for at university.
If you've switched careers and have experience in some other field, explain with evidence how your previous work can enhance your teaching - communication skills, say, or administration, record-keeping or the use of assessment to inform future planning. Be consistent and account for any gaps in your CV.
Careful presentation speaks volumes: restrict yourself to two sides of A4 paper. Sub-divide into sections with cross-headings. Keep your language clear, concise and positive - "I co-ordinated, managed, succeeded". Avoid jargon - especially if you don't understand it. Remember that anything you seem unsure about will be pounced on at interview. Read your application out loud to make sure it flows well, and have it checked by your tutor. And keep a copy so you can refer to it just before an interview.
* Show how your knowledge, experience and skills meet the job specification.
* Provide evidence and examples to back up your statements.
* Use positive language.
* Avoid jargon.
* Keep it warm and personal, not self-important.
* Be specific, concise and neat.
* Check your grammar and spelling.
* Never include anything that you can't back up at an interview.