NQT Job Applications and Who Should be My Referees?

Just like any job, you need to make sure you stand out from the noise when applying for your first teaching position, so we’ve created this guide to help you understand the most important dos and don'ts when making your NQT job application. 

In addition, we’ll cover advice when it comes to choosing who should be your best referees for your NQT job applications.

These are some top tips we hope will guarantee, not only that your application makes the shortlist, but that you will be shortlisted as the favoured candidate

You’ll likely be up against some very stiff competition, so we want to provide all the information you’ll need to submit an application which will impress the hiring manager. 

Also, because of the fierce competition, you’ll want to make sure you’ve covered all the bases, so we suggest reading our full NQT jobs guide as well.

And one point worth bearing in mind is that many applicants focus on presenting their qualifications, experience and skills. But they don’t spend much time thinking about who they will choose for their referees. 

However, choosing the right referee can make all the difference in your application. Like I said, cover all your bases.

If you choose the wrong person you might end up being rejected from your dream job. Or if you choose your referees too late, your preferred referees might be too busy to be able to help you.

Proper planning and preparation are essential. You don’t want to mess up your chances of landing your chosen job.

Ok, let’s start this guide with guidance on how to complete a strong NQT job application.

Guidance on completing the NQT application form

First, make sure everything that you put on your application form is truthful and honest. Providing false information in an application is an offence which could have serious consequences, not least being losing that job.. 

There are generally three key areas of an effective NQT application:

You might be thinking you should include your Curriculum Vitae or resume. However, in the interests of fairness and to make sure candidates provide the same information in the same format, most schools require an application form to be filled in instead of a CV.

Detailing your personal characteristics 

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of completing your application, let’s discuss talking about personal and professional characteristics. This is an area I’ve found many new teachers struggle with. The truth is that in any job application, you will have to write about yourself. Of course, this must always be in the context of what you can do for the school.

  • Do you know what your strengths are?
  • Do you know which areas you need to work on?

To be successful in your application, your strengths must fit in with what the school is looking for. If you’re not sure how to answer those two questions above, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

  • Start by asking your colleagues what they see as your strengths and areas to work on.
  • Then ask anyone in a position above you.
  • And if you are in a leadership position, ask them too.

Now, you have all their opinions, think about what is special about you, what makes you a good teacher, why should this school hire you and what makes you a pleasure to work with?

It’s really important for you to think carefully about this because these questions always come up in interviews as well.

Filling in the form

Enter your text here...Most schools use online forms these days. But if the form needs to be handwritten, then usually a black pen is needed.

It goes without saying that you need to write as neatly as possible. If you can, print off a few copies of the form so you can complete a rough draft. You must complete all sections of the form. If a section is not applicable, please state this.

Personal details

Make sure to write your name in full, your address, and your contact phone number.

You’ll be required to include your date of birth and your National Insurance number. If you have a teacher reference number, add that for pay and pension purposes.


Include full details of your degrees, diplomas and any other qualifications you have. Make sure you give all the information required and levels and grades of any examinations taken. You will need to provide evidence if invited for an interview.

Qualifications and training experience

In this section, make sure you give all the information required. That includes levels and grades of any examinations taken. If you have not finished your NQT course, include the date you expect to finish your training.

You must have qualified teacher status (QTS) to take up a teaching post in England.

Relevant short courses attended in the past five years

This section can be fairly brief. Make sure any courses given are relevant to the teaching post you are applying for. You can include details of any special skills training, or ability to speak other languages.

Previous employment, voluntary work of other activities

It is very important that you complete this section in chronological order. If there are any gaps, give detailed reasons. 

You should include work experience placements, holiday and voluntary work and any previous non-teaching employment.

Permission to work in the United Kingdom

Please make sure you have a legal right to work in the United Kingdom before you complete this section.  You will also be asked to provide evidence of this before you can start working.

Personal Statement

Your NQT Personal Statement is very important because it allows you to explain why you are suitable for the position being advertised. You can include your skills, knowledge and experience.  Make sure you give examples where appropriate.

Here are some examples that you could include:

  • Your ability to create a positive learning environment
  • Ability to plan and provide effective and inspiring lessons
  • Time management and organisational skills
  • Ability to show what constitutes effective teaching and learning, e.g. modelling, marking, and assessment
  • Effective written and interpersonal skills
  • Ability to work in a team environment
  • Knowledge of different teaching and learning approaches
  • Knowledge of effective assessment and how to adapt your teaching to meet special educational needs
  • Curriculum knowledge, and a particular interest or strength you would like to show in your application
  • Details of teaching different ages of pupils, different class sizes, and different types of schools
  • Experience of using ICT applications to enhance learning, such as IWBs, computers, software, and cameras
  • Experience of running school activities, e.g. homework club, an after-school club

How to write the perfect teaching personal statement

When you apply for your new teaching position, you could be competing with a hundred other applicants. 

The HR manager recruiting for the job will be looking at every detail in your application. This is serious business, so they want to make sure you are the right person for the position. Obviously, the application form is the first hurdle you face. You want to give a great first impression before you’ve even met them.

Just like a resume and cover letter for a regular job, your personal statement should be rewritten for every position you apply for.

Generic personal statements are super easy for employers to spot. And after all, you want to shine, right? Plus, you don’t want to copy someone else’s statement. Your employer might screen all personal statements using a similarity detection service like Copycatch. This could really hurt your application right out of the gate. 

For more information on writing your personal statement, please see our full guide: Your NQT Personal Statement.

Who should be your NQT referees?

When it is time to choose your referees, it can be a stressful situation. In a perfect world, you want to pick your most recent line manager who adores you and will give a glowing review.

NQT job applications ask for two referees, so who should you choose?

You should choose referees who know you in a professional capacity. As an NQT, you have your university tutor plus one person from one of your teaching practice schools. Some people believe that you  should not have two referees from the same school, but this is not great advice. It is better to have two referees from the same school than out-of-date references. 

Don’t make the mistake in thinking that your headteacher doesn’t know you well enough. If they are new, they will ask someone else who does know you to help draft their letter. 

One very important point about your choice of a referee is that you must put down your current headteacher. If you don’t, it will look very odd, and the school will probably contact them anyway. The school might even bin your application for the very reason you didn’t put down your headteacher.

Worried about asking your headteacher for a reference?

If you are apprehensive about approaching your headteacher for a reference, bear this in mind. Always be professional. Tell them you really appreciate everything they have done for you concerning your professional development, but the time has come to move on as you feel you can’t turn down this fantastic opportunity that has been given to you. Be strong and confident, and go see them.

Another very important note to be careful of is that headteachers sometimes complain that they receive forms with incorrect email addresses and telephone numbers. This would make for an extremely difficult and frustrating situation, and will most likely mean your application is binned. Never make that mistake. 

Choose your referees early

As soon as you see a likely job, you should contact your referees and say that you are looking to move forward in your career, and would like them to be one of your referees. This is just a matter of courtesy.

Final thoughts on NQT job applications

If your application is successful, you will usually be required to complete a confidential medical questionnaire and you may be required to take a medical examination before your appointment is confirmed.

As with anything, the more effort you put in to prepare a strong application, the higher the chance of getting shortlisted. Please remember that the school wants you to be interested in them, so stay focused on the school, and offer them as much value as you can.

The last thing you need to be aware of is to check your spelling and grammar very carefully. It is wise to ask a friend to proofread your completed application before you submit it. Typos and illegible handwriting have no place in an application. Schools will expect you to be a literate and a sound communicator so never submit an application with silly errors.

When you have sent your application, you should begin preparing for your interview. Do not wait until you are contacted to begin preparing. You need as much time as possible.

Are You Now Ready To Start Teaching?

Join our ECT pool today for the chance of starting a career in education right in the heart of London.

We have more helpful articles right here!

Page [tcb_pagination_current_page] of [tcb_pagination_total_pages]