EXAMPLE PERSONAL STATEMENTS FOR TEACHER TRAINING APPLICATIONS

 

If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough

Albert Einstein

There follow four real personal statements from PGCE (teacher training applications). These are real examples, but of course personal details have been altered. They will give you ideas of how to write your own, and might be useful examples for any job or postgraduate study application where a personal statement is required. 

You will also find a practice interview for teacher training at www.kent.ac.uk/careers/interviews/ivteaching.htm

Also see:

How to write an outstanding personal statement

The personal statement of your teaching application is by far the most important part of it. You have 47 lines to answer the following question:

"Describe briefly your reasons for wanting to teach, giving the relevance of your previous education and experience, including teaching, visits to schools and other work with young people."

 

Content

Sell the skills you gained from vacation jobs.

Many students feel that their casual shop or restaurant job is of no interest to selectors but this is far from the truth. Explain the skills you gained serving customers, working in a busy team, being tactful when handling complaints etc.

Here is an example of how one graduate did this: "All of my work experiences have involved working within a team-based culture. This involved planning, organisation, coordination and commitment e.g., in retail, this ensured daily sales targets were met, a fair distribution of tasks and effective communication amongst all staff members."

Your reasons for wanting to teach

What skills do you have that will make you an effective teacher?

Why this PGCE subject/age group?

Sell your teaching experience

Many courses don't interview candidates who don't have recent experience of working with children of the relevant age in a state school (although you might get away without this in a shortage subject). For primary, you'll need at least a month's experience. It shows evidence of commitment to teaching.
If you've arranged teaching experience, but haven't yet done it, mention this in your statement, saying what you will be doing. Christ Church University said that students should be aware that only having teaching experience abroad is not sufficient: they need to have had experience in a British school.

"Make sure you have some work experience: they seem to place immense importance on this."

"Flaunt any talents/skills you have in your GTTR Personal Statement as this is read and used as a basis for the character analysis."

Applicants for primary PGCEs

What interests have you got that could be applied to extra-curricular

"He referred to things I had written in my Personal Statement, so the more diverse and varied you can make it, the better: if you have a talent (i.e. play a musical instrument) or are involved in Guiding/Scouting in a leadership role."

Greenwich PGCE interview

"Computing is rapidly becoming a key subject. Students on the course are expected to reach a level of knowledge in IT to pass the course. If you can offer it as your specialist subject do! If not brush up your skills."

Applicant for primary PGCEs

activities or help the school in other ways?

Although your classroom experience will probably be the most important part of your statement, evidence of ability to relate to young people in other ways will add strong supporting evidence . What else have you done to show you enjoy working with young people or children? Sports coaching, Sunday school teaching or helping in youth club will all demonstrate a real interest in young people and helping them learn


You can also explain here anything not mentioned elsewhere on the application,

The work experience statement

The work experience statement can contain up to 20 lines, with a maximum of 80 characters per line. You can list where you have worked (paid and unpaid), dates, job titles, employers and responsibilities.

Keep the work experience section factual and use the personal statement to amplify, reflect and interpret how this work experience is relevant to teaching. For example if you have worked in a shop you could mention that you had to work in a busy team under pressure, deal tactfully with customer complaints and adapt quickly to changing situations.

The section on entering time for course modules

In the section of the application form where students have to enter the percentage of time taken up by each module it states that students should round up or round down rather than having decimal points. However, it also said that the total should add up to 100%, which won't happen if a student has rounded up/down. One student was worried that either way she was not going to be following one of the instructions.

It would be OK to round each module percentage either up or down so that it makes 100% - the module percentages don't have to be exactly accurate!

 From Christ Church University's point of view they said that they don't mind if the percentages don't add up to 100.

Choosing referees for your PGCE application

See the UCAS page on this www.ucas.com/how-it-all-works/advisers-and-referees/referees/teacher-training This is what they say:

Who should be your principal referee?

If you are at university or finished your studies in the last five years, your principal referee should ideally be a tutor (or lecturer) who can comment on your academic achievements and your personal qualities. If you cannot obtain a reference from a university or college tutor, your principal referee should be a responsible person who knows you well enough to write with authority about you, for example, an employer or a training officer. Your referee should be able to comment in detail about your suitability for your chosen PGCE courses and any training or study you have done recently.

If you graduated more than 5 years ago, you may not need to supply an academic referee.

Who should be your second referee?

Your second referee must be a responsible person who knows you, and who can provide a character reference for you and comment on your suitability for teaching (ideally a headmaster or teacher who has supervised your work experience in a school). You do not need to ask your second referee to provide a reference on your application. Training providers will contact your second referee directly if they want a second reference.

Once you have qualified teacher status, you are qualified as a teacher, not as a subject specialist, so you may also be able to teach lessons to younger pupils in a subject you studied at A Level or as a subsidiary subject in your degree. This flexibility could increase your employability when applying for jobs.

How to answer questions on the Teach First application form

Knowledge

Humility, Respect & Empathy

Problem Solving

Here you are asked to describe a challenge you have faced.

  1. Be very specific about the challenge itself. We are looking for your ability to weigh up the pros and cons of a situation.
  2. What measures did you take to overcome these obstacles? Use I not We…we want to know what you did, not any one else.
  3. What were the results?
  4. We are looking for a positive approach.

Leadership

Here you are asked to describe a position of responsibility you had, the skills you developed and thirdly how these will help you when a Teach First Teacher

 

EXAMPLE PERSONAL STATEMENTS

IMPORTANT.

You should not use any of the following content as part of your own personal statement as you would not be reflecting your own experience and ideas. This would be seen as plagiarism and would lead to rejection by the institutions you are applying to. GTTR uses the UCAS Similarity Detection Service to ensure that each personal statement received is entirely the candidate’s own work.

APPLICATION BY PSYCHOLOGY STUDENT FOR PRIMARY PGCE

"Describe briefly your reasons for wanting to teach giving the relevance of your previous education and experience, including teaching, visits to schools and work with other young people"

Studying Psychology has given me a broad knowledge about child development, the development of language and mental processes and the emotional development of a child.   This general understanding is important for teaching. 

Studying biology, statistics and computing, writing many essays in English at university in addition to my A-levels made me acquire skills and knowledge which are important for teaching the national curriculum. 

In the psychology courses I have followed I have always had a particular interest when it was of relevance to children.  This drew me into considering teaching. But my interest started much earlier and was increased by experience. 

After my A-levels, I really enjoyed working as an English assistant at an international summer school.  Although it was tiring at times, being with the children from breakfast to bed time showed me other aspects of their lives.  I found it also very rewarding seeing the progress the children had made in English, and the openness they had acquired to other cultures. 

Working as a special needs assistant in an ordinary primary international school was equally rewarding.  It was quite demanding as I gradually acquired the responsibility of a group of children, but I also discovered that motivation was an important factor.  I used a lot of imagination to maximise motivation, using original games, so that although we were working it would appear more like fun.  My various experiences have made me positive about teaching, together with my education they are adequate support for a PGCE in primary teaching.

APPLICATION FOR SECONDARY ENGLISH

"Describe briefly your reasons for wanting to teach giving the relevance of your previous education and experience, including teaching, visits to schools and work with other young people"

I am applying to do teacher training as I feel that my experiences of assistant teaching have been both personally satisfying and beneficial to the children I worked with.  I have enjoyed three periods of teaching.  My first opportunity to teach was provided by the Community Service Scheme at Southwark School, which was one of the necessary requirements for the Gold Certificate I as awarded.  The first position I was given as an assistant was at Hendon Junior School.  I enjoyed my weekly sessions there and was interested in the teacher’s technique of teaching young children, however I felt I would have preferred to have taught the subjects in more depth.

I had the opportunity at my second position at Fairgrove Junior School, to instruct my own group of pupils when I taught recorder lessons in the afternoon breaks.  I was allowed to devise my own teaching methods and I received great satisfaction when the children showed understanding and progress.

My third experience was provided by Barnstaple College when I worked as an assistant teacher in music lessons at Key Lane Secondary School.  Although I applied to teach English I enjoyed the opportunity to teach older children as the lessons were more tightly structured so that a better understanding could be attained.

I am now certain that it is the education of the eleven plus age group that I would like to specialise in as at this level I would be able to teach English or Literature to the depth at which it becomes the most interesting and enlightening.  I would hope to give my students a sense of the background and history from which the literature was produced and lead them to an understanding and appreciation of the English language.

APPLICATION FOR SECONDARY ENGLISH AND DRAMA

"Describe briefly your reasons for wanting to teach giving the relevance of your previous education and experience, including teaching, visits to schools and work with other young people"

I was inspired to teach by my own experiences at school; in particular by my Maths and Drama teachers.  Above all they treated me as an individual, encouraging me to achieve my personal best.  In Drama our teacher’s enthusiasm and commitment motivated us to produce A grade presentations.  In Maths, a subject that I did not enjoy initially, my tutor used his sense of humour to teach us tricks and mnemonics to make learning interesting.  Both were approachable and friendly and their honesty encouraged a sense of openness in the classroom.

I believe I would thrive as a teacher because of my own enthusiasm for and dedication to my subjects; coupled with my ability to relate to people in the 11-16 age group.   I have tried to gain as much teaching experience as possible, beginning whilst in Y12 by attending Y9 and 10 English lessons as a classroom assistant.  My positions as house and camp prefect enabled me to get to know the younger students outside the classroom.  A trip to Kenya to assist in an orphanage and school allowed me to use these skills to encourage the Kenyan children to love communication and learning.

As teacher of English and Drama in the Edenfield Student Teaching Programme, I was able to teach children both practical and emotional expression.   Edenfield is a summer programme consisting of classroom teaching and extra curricular activities, including sports and arts.  It is aimed at non-English speaking students aged 11-14.  The intensive nature of the course encourages meaningful relationships to develop and all the teachers were actively involved in personal and pastoral care.  Conveying my own enthusiasm for my subjects helped the students develop more confidence and a better understanding of spoken and written English.   I sought especially to find new ways of presenting familiar ideas, to ensure that my class gained as much as they could from the summer school.  The positions of responsibility I held at Edenfield also included Head of the Drama faculty and radio media course and group leader.  In these demanding roles I participated in planning the overall structure of the whole course, in addition to preparing lesson plans for my own classes.  I have also worked with much younger children in summer courses at respected international pre-schools.

During my time at university, class discussion and open forum have proved useful when preparing my own written work and analysing that of others.  I appreciated studying a wide range of texts, analysing period and context.  I have also maintained a keen interest in extra curricular activities; including being an active member of the Children’s Theatre Company and attending Archbishop’s school weekly, for one term, to assist in their A-level drama classes.  I learned a great deal from the classes and as a teacher I hope to continue discovering and learning along with my students.

SUCCESSFUL APPLICATION BY FOR PGCE ART & DESIGN 14-19

Whilst studying Dress Manufacture and Fashion Design at London College of Fashion, I was greatly inspired by one of my Tutors and her enthusiasm for teaching, passing her knowledge and experiences on to me. Her encouragement and support gave me confidence in my abilities and the desire for success. Having gained life experience, I now want to share my knowledge and experiences with the young people of today and help them prepare the path for their future.

The 14-19 age group is one of mixed hormones! Art is a way for young people to express themselves, to release their angsts, any inhibitions, problems and restrictions. Art encourages young people to look at the world from different viewpoints, to challenge perceptions, to be creative in thought and processes and can ultimately enable them to interact and cope better with their everyday experiences in life.

I believe everybody has artistic flair and would encourage all to explore their creativity with confidence and self belief. My own artistic ability, inventiveness and stamina  enables me to contribute new ideas and to develop them through an understanding of the design and creative processes and the power of observation. In addition to this, through my own art training and life experiences, I am sensitive to the world around me and accomplished in working in a variety of medias and techniques. Having to accept both advice and criticism of my work, I am aware of what a difficult skill this is to develop but also how important this skill is in life. In the working world, job appraisal is now a routine event involving self evaluation, reflection and critical assessment of performance. This cycle is well established and developed in students through the study of Art & Design.

I am continuously curious and open minded, hardworking, enthusiastic, able to work with others, and organise my time effectively. I believe that teaching makes a lasting contribution to a young person and it is important for them to acquire both knowledge and skills. With my responsive thinking, patience and sensitivity, strong self motivation and enthusiasm I want to pass on all that I have learnt to others and I believe this age group to be the one that I want to inspire and encourage. This is my motivation for pursuing a career in teaching and I feel that I have a lot to offer young people.

SUCCESSFUL APPLICATION BY SPORTS SCIENCE STUDENT FOR PHYSICAL EDUCATION PGCE

My motivation for teaching comes from personal experience of wanting to make a difference.  I have recently completed a placement at Grange Park which is a specialist autism school which I enjoyed very much. I saw at firsthand how the teachers improve the quality of life for the individuals studying there and how much the children benefit.  I would love to acquire that characteristic and feel that during my placement,  I have picked up some of the tools to begin.

For example, I have learnt to communicate with individuals who have different levels of communicational needs.  I have learnt to be patient, to speak and explain clearly  what I am expecting the children to do and to check their understanding. This has improved my clarity, an important skill for a teacher what ever and who ever you are teaching. I have observed, and used myself, a range of motivational tools such as targets and reinforcement and how to encourage pupils who suffer with ASD.  This has extended the leadership skills which I first developed in Year 13 when I completed the CSLA course. I feel that support and encouragement are key to participation in and enjoyment of PE lessons which are fundamental to improved health and fitness. In addition, PE obviously plays a role in supporting the Government initiatives for healthy eating and cutting obesity in children. Above all, though, it should be fun and all children should be encouraged to be active and enjoy sport.

 At Grange Park, I have been actively involved in teaching sessions and have used a lot of one on one coaching. I have  also taught pupils how to coach others which has been a rewarding experience.  Persuading and negotiating with young people can be difficult but with individuals who suffer with ASD, it is even more challenging.  My problem solving skills have also improved! My experience has led me to look further into the education and lifestyle of children with special needs and I have used this in-depth research to enhance my understanding and experience at Grange Park.  Time management, for example, is a key aspect of teaching at Grange Park because people who have ASD have no concept of time.  Times are adhered to rigidly in order to provide routine for the pupils This did lead to a pressured working environment and provided experience of working under pressure as it was essential to provide all relevant teaching points in a small amount of time.

It will be interesting to compare this style of teaching with teaching in mainstream. I have some experience of teaching small groups outside of school both through activities on my course, the CSLA award and I also teach and compete with a local majorette troupe which annually competes at the National Championships. 

My paid work is as a fitness and aerobics instructor in a leisure centre so I have a keen interest in health and fitness. To keep fit and active personally, I referee men’s football locally at the moment but intend to push on to County level when I finish my degree and have time to pursue my accreditation.

I am looking forward to gaining my degree and starting on my journey to become a P.E teacher.  It is a career which has always interested me since my personal involvement as a pupil at school. Now, through my placement, I have developed a passion for teaching and instructing which has led me to apply for this course.  I feel it will be a career that will be immensely rewarding and can offer me job satisfaction.          

SUCCESSFUL APPLICATION BY SPORTS SCIENCE STUDENT FOR PGCE SECONDARY PE Specialising in Dance)

I was inspired to become a teacher during my second year at university through the module, Health and Exercise Promotion. Within this module I had to organise an event and I chose to organise an event for children, including a practice session before my assessed event took place. By doing this, it made me more confident and competent in what I was going to do with the children within the event. It helped to build my skills in behaviour management which helped me to control the children. Having met them, they knew who I was and what I was trying to do, and they had more respect for me throughout the event. As I had gained respect from the children, I was then able to communicate with them on a different level. I was able to speak to them with firmness, but also to explain to them clearly in language they could understand. They weren’t confused about what was going on, which meant they enjoyed the event more. For example, one child never took part in his physical education sessions at school but I managed to get him joining in the assessed event. I was also able to communicate effectively with the teacher of the group as I could talk to him in a professional manner which helped me to gain his trust when looking after his pupils.

Also whilst at college we held a sports day for all the school children within the local area. It was devised by us, the students, and each student had responsibility for running their own selected sport within the day. The event included children attending special needs schools, which meant that I was able to develop my experience in working with special needs children.

My own preferred sport is Dance and I have learnt how to discipline myself within this sport and other aspects of my life. It has helped to build up my confidence and develop me as a person. At the age of 17, I helped the dance teachers within the classes, either taking children to one side and teaching them one to one, or teaching small groups. By doing this it gave me limited teaching experience. It also helped me to adapt to the different ways in which you can teach and talk to children of different ages. By being able to talk to a variety of children, it meant that I had started to develop my communication skills with the pupils, teachers and parents, and being able to adapt to each type of person.

Through this experience and through being a lifeguard, I have learnt the need to be very patient with some children. As a life guard, I had to ensure good communication between the children, staff, managers and other members of the public. Making sure that things were carried out as they needed to be, made me more assertive and firm with people and made me aware of their health and safety in a sports setting. However, it was important to come across in the right manner and tone, without being rude or aggressive. In addition, my awareness of risk,  reaction time and capabilities improved with consistently watching the pools and I needed to concentrate fully on my job despite the distractions.

Whilst being at university I am working as a personal trainer. The gym has given me greater responsibility and I have continued to maintain my life guarding qualification. I am trusted to open and close the gym and am responsible in the work place for each person that comes in for a gym induction. I  work either in groups or on a one to one basis but I focus on motivation, encouragement and maintaining their training programmes. I enjoy the motivational and encouraging role and I feel this links to the work of the school teacher  as they motivate their pupils.

In my current year at university, I am going to be taking a Sports Industry module  in which I will be going into a local school to help them with undertaking independent research, developing the ability to contextualise, record and reflectively evaluate sports related activities within the school  It will also include developing other aspects within the school, including the business side, and also developing my teaching/coaching skills. This may be within the classroom, on the sports field, in after school clubs and generally helping to conduct the sports that they are undertaking at the school.

You can see my enthusiasm for working with children and young people and the range of skills I have already developed. I know that the PGCE course will be intensive but I look forward to the challenge and moving into a career which I know I will love.

APPLICATIONS BY MATURE STUDENTS

SUCCESSFUL APPLICATION BY MATURE PSYCHOLOGY STUDENT FOR PRIMARY PGCE

"Describe briefly your reasons for wanting to teach giving the relevance of your previous education and experience, including teaching, visits to schools and work with other young people"

Over a 3-4 year period I have worked as a parent-helper in two local primary schools.   I have taken part in teaching within areas of the National Curriculum e.g. reading and group maths work, but I have also helped out on sports days, harvest festivals, school outings and during swimming lessons.  Despite finding some of these experiences challenging, I have also found them extremely rewarding – particularly when I have been able to help a child overcome a learning barrier.  I would also like to teach because doing so would give me the flexibility of being able to spend time during the school holidays with my own children while they are still young.

I believe that I would be able to make a valuable contribution to school life as a teacher.  If I were given the opportunity I would be keen to participate in ways that would allow me to utilise some of my abilities e.g. piano playing.  I would like to have the opportunity to apply my creative skills towards thinking up innovative ways of combining different areas of the National Curriculum within a project.  Although the degree that I am taking, Psychology, is not a National Curriculum subject it is heavily based upon scientific analysis.  Statistics/maths, information technology and child development are also core components of this degree.  I also elected to take a non-compulsory module in human biology in the foundation year of my course because I wanted to have a good grounding in this before confronting it in core modules.

I feel that the study of psychology is very relevant to teaching, for example, I have learnt that information is better committed to memory (particularly in young children) when visual and tactile aides are used, particularly if used in novel ways.  During my course I have learnt that information is grasped best when it is presented in a supportive and encouraging environment and introduced in manageable stages.  I also recognise that it is not only the academic development of children that is important within the school system, but also their interpersonal relations.

Since returning to full-time education I have had to develop organisational skills in order to juggle studying with the responsibilities of having a family and home.  I also travel a fair distance to University so I have had to be determined and hard working.   I am sure that the experiences that I have gained with children and during my degree would make me a good teacher and justify my gaining a place on a PGCE course.

SUCCESSFUL APPLICATION BY MATURE STUDENT FOR SECONDARY CITIZENSHIP PGCE

I am inspired to teach because of the freedom to be creative in the work place and the potential for spontaneity. In addition, I am motivated by my own experience following three decades of professional work and some time spent as a voluntary youth worker mentoring young people with behavioural disorders to promote a positive attitude. This, together with my academic background, has fully equipped me to teach. I graduated overseas in Accounting, Biblical Studies, and Business Administration and recently completed MA International Relations (UK)

From the moment I began observing young people with learning and behavioural difficulties, and their unwillingness to study, I was confronted by the issues which many young people experience today. We live in an information age where traditional teaching methods can be unsuccessful. The click and instant message of a PC no longer demands of growing youths the reality of patience and persistence to get the result. I believe I have the drive and enthusiasm as a teacher to make learning fun and to foster a discovering of self potential because of my subject knowledge, experience and wide background as well as the ability to relate to people in the 11 – 18 age group. I have gained teaching experience  through visiting schools, mentoring and counselling vulnerable young people in a one to one and team situation. Having myself been in the position of a school prefect in a school of 2500 students, I have gained insight into teaching and helping young people including those with learning difficulties and behaviour management issues. Having obtained a Diploma in Pastoral Counselling, I worked as a pastoral counsellor and have given practical assistance to children displaying behavioural disorders. I have strong relationships with my colleagues and students as a volunteer youth worker with Fairbridge in Kent. I have been able to motivate and inspire young people with concentration difficulties as well as give practical advice.

My varied educational and professional background offers me a unique platform to teach and relate creatively with young people aged 11 years plus. I have taught this age group in a Sunday School setting, visited a school to observe departments and have arranged for a work shadowing placement in my son’s school. My experience together with my qualifications in Accounting, Biblical Studies, Business Administration and International Relations have given me a greater awareness of responsibility. I am aware of the challenges ahead working in a dynamic teaching environment but perseverance, which is currently constrained by our fast changing age, will be harnessed with my determination to teach with interest and open mindedness to make learning fun, enjoyable and a journey of discovery along with my students.

More personal statement examples can be found at
www.thestudentroom.co.uk/wiki/Category:Education_and_Teaching_Personal_Statements

Also see our Teaching Careers page