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Applications are a necessary evil. Sara Bubb reveals the secrets to get you on the shortlist

Hate filling in applications? Who doesn't? But you've got to do it and do it well so that yours stands out and gets you on the shortlist. Make copies so that you can write drafts to ensure that things fit into the given space. Check the closing date and make sure you have plenty of time to contact referees, write the personal statement, complete the form, check it and post it. Skim through the form to see what's needed and whether you have all the information to hand.

Remembering dates for all your qualifications and jobs can be a nightmare unless you've kept your CV up-to-date. Follow any instructions about sending photocopies, using paper clips rather than staples, writing in black ink, and deadlines. Your employment history should start with the most recent unless otherwise specified.

Some forms ask for details of your recreational and any other special interests. Playing the piano is a boon, but don't exaggerate your talents.

Ensure you have asked your referees' permission and warn them of key dates as turnaround time is often tight. Sending them a copy of the application will jog their memory and they can reinforce and supplement rather than repeat information.

Writing a supporting statement needn't be hard. The problem is that it's too open-ended, and that blank page can be scary. Start off by thinking about what the school may want to know. Whoever reads your pearls of wisdom will be shortlisting against the selection criteria so consider using the same headings or order as in the specification, and aim to include at least one example of relevant experience for each.

Make sure you mention subject knowledge, professional development, planning, assessment, special educational needs, differentiation, varied teaching strategies, behaviour management, classroom organisation, display, parents and equal opportunities.

Write a paragraph for each point in the person specification, including an example. This can be boring and repetitious so try covering many criteria by writing about something in detail. Avoid unsubstantiated assertions and jargon. If you want to convey the sort of teacher you are, describe a specific lesson:

* how you planned it following the curriculum but also using your knowledge of what the pupils could and couldn't do;

* how you found out more, thought of how to meet the needs of a high attainer, one with special needs (using the individual education plan) and a child who speaks English as an additional language;

* how you taught it using a teaching assistant and some ICT - and why you taught it that way;

* how you managed any disruptive behaviour;

* what the pupils (one or two instances) learned;

* how you gave them feedback; l how you evaluated their learning and your teaching;

* what you planned for the next lesson.

Your supporting statement will be used to assess your written communication skills so give it a punchy start, a concluding sentence and make sure it reads well. Be relevant and concise; aim for one page, two at most. Take care with the layout so that it looks attractive. Proofread it, get someone else to check it, then check it again! It may be thrown out if there are mistakes.


* Reading through the form, would you employ you?

* Have you done everything the application pack required?

* Does the form look good?

* Is it legible and written in black?

* Have you listed all details about your teaching experience?

* Is grammar and spelling perfect?

* Does the personal statement make you sound interesting and reflective?

* Mark yourself on each aspect of the person specification - could you score any higher?

Sara Bubb's Insider's Guide to Early Professional Development is published by TES and Routledge, pound;12.99

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