Your ECT Cover Letter: Why it Matters and What to Say

If you weren’t aware, there have been a lot of changes recently to the process of becoming a teacher.

Perhaps you’ve been doing some research on the Internet and come across some older articles which used the NQT - ‘Newly Qualified Teacher’ - terminology.

Well, the Department of Education has been hard at work and revamped the whole process. 

The new Early Careers Framework (‘ECF’) has now taken over from the NQT, and the main difference is that the induction period as a trainee teacher will now be two years instead of one, and there is a defined training requirement.

Click HERE to read our full article explaining the differences between NQT and ECT

Are you ready to apply for some teaching positions?

One of the benefits of joining the Lambeth ECT pool is that you will not be required to create a cover letter with your application. 

The application to join Lambeth ECT Induction Pool is a simple two-step process.

Click HERE To Apply To Join Lambeth ECT Induction Pool

If you would like to teach in another area, you will most likely need to include a cover letter with your application. However, there is no need to worry as this post will explain exactly what is required.

What is the purpose of the ECT Cover Letter?

The ECT cover letter, sometimes called the ECT letter of application, is a short letter you will write to give more details regarding your skills and experience.

You will then attach this letter along with your resume when you apply for any teaching position.

How to create your ECT Cover Letter?

Let’s start with the length of your ECT cover letter. It should be no longer than two pages of A4 paper.

When you think about it, that’s not much to explain how wonderful you are, so you must be very clear and precise.

It goes without saying that the words you use will ultimately decide whether your application will go straight in the waste basket or the ‘interview’ pile.

Therefore, give yourself plenty of time to write your cover letter, and be prepared to write multiple drafts.

Before you get started, a word of caution, with a simple Google search, you will come across templates to create your ECT cover letter.

However, be very careful going down this route.

The last thing you want to do when applying for your dream teaching position is to create a mechanical, generic letter that looks and feels like hundreds of others.

Writing a strong ECT cover letter is not easy, which is why Lambeth came up with the idea not to require the cover letter with your application.

However, there are many positions that you might have had your eyes on for a while which will require a cover letter.

Therefore, it’s worth putting in extra effort to give you the best opportunity in the hiring process.

A one-size-fits-all cover letter won’t cut the mustard

A common mistake many recent graduates make when applying for their first few teaching positions is creating a one-size-fits-all cover letter.

Unfortunately, this will not work. Hiring managers have dealt with hundreds of applications in their careers and are therefore very familiar with reading cover letters.

Besides, templated cover letters are easy to spot, so don’t trip yourself up at the first hurdle.

You’ll need to write a specific cover letter for every school you send an application.

How to get started with your ECT cover letter

First of all, you need to do the groundwork. And that means carefully reading everything you have been given regarding the teaching position.

If possible, take photocopies of everything. This way, you’ll have a master copy and one copy you can dissect.

Get a highlighter out and highlight anything in the application pack you feel is crucial.

Focus on anything that gives you an inclination about the school’s values and approach to teaching.

In addition, highlight any parts which match your skills and experience.

Brainstorming a structure using a mind map

The next step is to brainstorm the particular parts you will include in your cover letter. And the best place to start is by analysing the essential criteria mentioned in the teaching vacancy.

This could be your teaching experience, your specific teaching style or qualifications. Write down each main point on your mind map, and then add notes to each area. 

As with anything complicated, don’t expect to finish in one sitting. It is always useful to have a go.

Then leave it for a period of time, even coming back the next day. Rereading what you have, and then editing it with a fresh pair of eyes always improves the quality of the finished article.

The structure of a high-quality ECT cover letter

The structure of a high-quality cover letter is relatively standard, and will usually include these four main points: 

1. Explain your interest in the vacancy 

As clearly as possible, and in an enthusiastic and precise manner, explain the details of your interest in the position. You can include your reasons for liking the subject, the age range of students and how this all ties in with your intended career path. 

2. Explain your qualifications and teaching experience

Here you should include your Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and when you achieved it, your university qualifications and all your teaching training experience. Highlight areas of your experience which will help you stand out against most other applicants. Include a general overview and a specific example that lets them visualise you in the classroom, how you work, and how you support your pupils with teaching and learning.

3. Mention your most relevant skills 

In this part, you can include any skills especially relevant to the particular vacancy. These skills could consist of things like your ability to deal with students with special needs, your presentation skills or even your special ability to use technology in the classroom.

4. Now sell yourself

This section is where you demonstrate why you are the most suitable candidate for the position. Often, this is where most young teachers falter because they might not be confident blowing their own trumpet. Try your best to get past this nervousness if that sounds like you. Instead, use your research about the school to do your best to align your values with the school’s mission and beliefs.  Summarise how you have developed as a teacher through all your training so far, explain why teaching is important to you and why you are most suited to this vacancy and school.

A word on teaching experience or lack thereof

Many new graduates stumble when it comes to giving details about their experience. Even if this is the very first job you are applying for, you still have experience.

All you have to do is describe situations you went through in the main teaching practices you completed during your training. 

You can talk about how you approached the learning environment and how this reflected on the students’ learning opportunities, and how you may have changed your approach based on the experience you had during your training.

Another area you already have experience in is specific age groups. During your training, you taught specific ages of children.

You can mention these age groups under experience and also go into more detail if the age groups you covered match the age group of the vacancy.

Related: Teach in Lambeth

The final draft of your ECT cover letter

It goes without saying that your final draft should be flawless. Spelling and grammatical mistakes are the obvious things to check for, but also check for long, rambling sentences. It is an excellent idea to print your final draft and read it aloud.

This will help you find sentences that are unclear and unnecessarily wordy. Sometimes your sentences aren't grammatically incorrect, but they sound awkward, convoluted, or repetitive.

When you ‘hear’ your final draft, it is easier to spot problem sentences like these. It is also a good idea to record your final draft for the same reasons.

You can easily read it aloud while recording it on your phone, then play it back and try to spot other areas where you could improve the clarity.

The ‘so what' test is a final check borrowed from the world of copywriting.

Using your printed copy, go through every point where you have made a claim or written a key point and highlight them.

Then come back again, and ask yourself, ‘so what’ about each point.

Here, it’s best if you try your best to put the hiring manager’s cap on. Think about how they would feel reading each of the main points you’ve highlighted. 

Do you need to rewrite any of these points to make them more straightforward? Do any sentences now seem odd to you and should be scrapped altogether?

Once you’ve completed this exercise, edit your draft, print again, and go through the proofreading steps above once again.

Final thoughts on your ECT cover letter

When nailing your dream teaching position, you will have to jump through several hoops. Just like any career of any value, there is an application process you need to go through.

Yes, applying for the perfect teaching position can mean a heap of work. However, remember you only have to go through this process once to get the job you are now looking for. 

Hopefully, this post has given you the confidence and the motivation to hit your cover letter head-on and relieve a large amount of stress in the process.

Teaching is a fantastic career choice with a ton of job satisfaction heading your way that is impossible to find in many jobs. 

Remember, having a well-written ECT cover letter will help you stand out from the majority of the other applicants.

Therefore, it’s worth spending the extra time to craft a high-quality cover letter to give you the best chance of being offered an interview.

Good luck.

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