When you’re applying for your first NQT teaching job it can be quite challenging. You might feel like you’re all alone, with no one to help and advise you. We don’t want you to struggle and perhaps lose the opportunity to get that teaching position you have set your eyes on. Therefore, we’ve created this post just for you.
Once you’re ready to start looking for a teaching position, one of the first things you will need to prepare is your application. There are usually three main components to an effective application, and these elements are:
In this article we will be focusing on your NQT Personal Statement.
Your NQT personal statement is likely to be the first impression that you will make with this new school or NQT pool and an ideal opportunity to show your unique qualities that make you the best person for the position on offer.
Therefore, you will want this opportunity to promote yourself to the school in the best way possible. So it’s important that your writing is coherent, focused and clearly explains your reasoning behind wanting to be a teacher. In addition, a strong NQT personal statement will set you apart from other candidates in the competitive marketplace.
Just like a resume and cover letter for a regular job, your personal statement should be rewritten for every position you apply for.
Never use the same NQT personal statement for multiple applications. 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. And quite possibly end up in the bin.
Remember, your personal statement is your chance to show your personality and enthusiasm, relevant to the school and prove you understand what they are looking for.
Your personal statement also shows your communication skills. That’s why you want to grab their attention, just like you want to with your students at the start of every lesson.
What is the NQT personal statement?
The NQT personal statement is an important document which schools use to understand why you want to become a teacher and whether you are suitable to teach at their school.
Of course, your application form will lay out all your qualifications, your skills, your strengths and weaknesses and also any relevant work experience. But your NQT personal statement is where you allow your unique personality to shine.
It is important to put your heart into writing your statement. And be prepared to write multiple drafts.
How do you write an effective NQT personal statement?
Your application and your NQT statement are going to be the first steps in securing the position you are looking for. Therefore, you obviously want to make a great first impression. Be ready to go through multiple drafts. Take your time, and get feedback from friends and family members.
I’m sure you have a ton of questions, such as:
These are all important questions. And I’m sure you have many more. So, let’s dive in and show you how to write an NQT statement which will stand out and give you the best chance of getting hired in your chosen teaching position.
Are you ready to write your killer NQT personal statement?
Great. Here are some important tips to help you.
1. The first rule when writing a successful NQT statement is to know your audience.
Before you start, it’s a great idea to step back for a minute and put yourself in your hiring manager’s shoes.
Think about what's important to them. What are they passionate about? What are they looking for? How can you improve their life?
When you think about what your hiring manager is looking for, you’ll have a much better chance of writing a concise and effective personal statement.
It’s a good idea to write a list of 10 things you think will be important to them.
However, the most critical step at this stage is to do your research and find out exactly what is required for this specific application. Different schools or LEA’s will have different requirements for the personal statement and should have guidelines somewhere in their application advert or portal.
Clearly your first task is to make sure that the personal statement you prepare is tailored to the requirements that have been set out for that job.
2. What is your objective?
You need to be clear on this before you start writing your personal statement. If the answer isn't clear to you, it certainly won't be clear to your potential employer.
3. Why do you want to be a teacher?
Seems a simple question on the surface. But this is a great opportunity to show you’ve thought through this question. You could mention a past teacher who inspired you. Or the challenges and rewards of teaching. You could also talk about any lessons you have observed or taught previously which impacted you. You could also discuss particular teaching styles and your interests in using technology in the classroom.
Key tip: Think about creating a story for this question. Remember, the hiring manager is first and foremost a human being. Many new teachers make the mistake of forgetting this vital point. You are equal to them in this respect. Use emotional language to touch your reader. Help them imagine themselves in the situation you are describing. Help them feel what it was like in the situation that drove your desire in becoming a teacher. This is a major key in rousing your reader’s emotions.
4. Make sure you start your personal statement strongly.
Just like a great book or movie, your opening sentence should stand out. Make it memorable, without being overly dramatic. Effective personal statements often start with what inspired you to enter teaching in the first place.
This is a great opportunity to show some passion. Like point no.3 above, use some emotional language.
5. Why do you want to teach a particular age group?
Be ready to explain why a certain age group appeals to you. Mention specific examples of your experience with this age group.
For example, anyone who has taught kindergarten knows how much energy the students have. Lessons are always full on. And as cute as the kids are, if your lessons are not jam-packed with active, high-energy games, you’re going to lose them.
Similarly, elementary students are at a stage where they are slowly beginning to think for themselves and many of them think they already know it all. At this age role-playing is effective, as the students like to see themselves as tiny adults.
If your chosen age group is teenagers, you’ll be aware that this age group has its own challenges. Being a teenager has never been an easy task, and with so many changes going on in their lives and their bodies, their confidence is up and down.
So, when you answer this question, you’ll need to show that you can relate to what is going on in your chosen group’s world. Show you are able to look back to when you were their age, relate to the age group and show how you keep your lessons relevant and exciting.
6. What experience do you have?
Relevant teaching experience is always going to help you when applying for any position. But it is also important to reflect on how that experience has helped you develop as a teacher. If you haven’t had much classroom time:
Obviously, as a new teacher, you can’t recite years of experience. Help your hiring manager imagine you in action. For example, you could describe a particular lesson which was either a success or failure. Think about retelling a memorable or challenging experience with a student, or a description of what your classroom looks and sounds like on a typical day. This will be much more valuable to enable them to envision your teaching experience than to cite pedagogical terms or talk vaguely about your teaching experience.
Always use specific examples of how your experiences have developed your teaching skills.
7. You should highlight your achievements, strengths and skills
Explain what you can bring to the school. Show how you differ from the other candidates. You could mention past experience and achievements, your unique talents, as well as your professional goals. You could also add specific classroom strategies you have developed and how they helped your students.
Many applications will make it clear that they want you to cover your specific qualifications, skills and understanding of elements of the National Curriculum, your classroom and educational skills plu your short and long term goals for making a difference to the education of your pupils.
The exact requirements should be set out in the application guidelines which should also tell you what you need to focus on.
8. How long should your NQT personal statement be?
This is not an essay. It’s simply a summary of you, your skills and your experience, and how they relate to the position you are applying for. Therefore, you should be specific and keep your personal statement short and informative.
This will help you keep your personal statement under a widely recommended 500-word limit. The school will not be impressed by minor childhood achievements, so keep your statement pertinent and focused.
That said, again, check the specific requirements in each case. Some applications will welcome a longer NQT personal statement, as is the case with Lambeth where we are happy to read up to three pages of A4, but no more.
If there is no guidance then the 500 word range is a very solid guide.
9. Make every word count
It’s a good idea to take a leaf out of a professional copywriter’s book here. Don’t waffle. Make every word count. Use powerful words where possible, without being overly dramatic. Avoid weak words like may, maybe, hope, wish, try, and perhaps. Instead, use words like will and can to help your personal statement command attention.
10. Take your time
Edit and then re-edit your personal statement. Besides being difficult to read, misspelled words and grammatical errors will destroy your credibility. Once you think you’ve written a great personal statement, it’s a good idea to leave it for a day or two. Then come back and see if you can improve it.
11. Read your statement out loud
This next tip is super-effective, and one many people fail to do. Read your statement out loud. If you do this, you’ll spot areas that don’t flow properly. And if you stumble when reading your statement out loud, you can be sure your potential employer will have the same trouble.
Key tip: Why don’t you record yourself as you read out your statement? This is simple to do with your phone. Then play it back and see if you can spot areas you can improve.
12. Let friends and relatives read your personal statement
Make sure whoever you ask to read your personal statement knows you want them to be critical. The whole purpose of this exercise is to improve your statement, not to make you happy that they love it. Choose your feedback team carefully.
13. Finish strongly
The way you finish your personal statement should reinforce your enthusiasm for your career in teaching. Acknowledge that hard work is necessary, but also make your excitement stand out.
Your personal statement for PGCE primary
You should explain the experience you’ve gained with primary-age children.
The PGCE primary personal statements usually demonstrate your personality and the various skills you have which would benefit primary schools such as being artistic, your musical talents or your sporting prowess.
All these types of skills would be very useful during primary schools’ extracurricular activities.
Your personal statement for PGCE secondary
In this type of personal statement, you will want to make it clear you understand the challenges of teaching older students.
You could mention specific examples of situations and challenges you have faced teaching this age of students, and how you overcame them.
You’ll also want to document how your degree ties in with the position you are applying for.
Final thoughts on your NQT Personal Statement
So, that is the nuts and bolts of what your NQT personal statement should include. The basic foundation for an effective personal statement is that it’s all about the pupils. What the school wants for the pupils, what you can provide for the pupils.
You should always write your personal statement, and indeed your whole application from the angle of what will benefit the pupils, not what’s best for you. The school is not interested at this stage in what’s good for you, it’s more interested in what’s good for its pupils, and if you can provide that.
Now you know the structure of a strong NQT personal statement, we hope you will be in a perfect position to write an effective statement to get that dream job you’ve had your eyes on.
There’s more on the specific requirements of what Lambeth are looking for in the NQT personal statement for the Lambeth NQT pool on pages 10 and 11 of the NQT Information Pack which you can download here.
Remember that, as we said at the start of this article, each job you apply for should come with clear requirements for the application and hopefully some guidance. In the case of Lambeth we have a requirement for your NQT personal statement to clearly cover how your skills, knowledge and experience meet the requirements of being an NQT, and we outline a set structure that helps you do that.
Download our NQT Information Pack now to learn more.