Giz a job! – Writing a personal statement or letter of application

If you use the information in this post, please make a donation to a charity close to my heart: Farms for City Children (set up by Michael & Clare Morpurgo)

This post is part of a trilogy in 4 parts.  Parts 1-3 are published, part 4 is being formulated as you read this:

  1. Giz a job
  2. The interview Lesson
  3. Operation Interview
  4. Now the real work begins:

Application forms for primary teaching jobs are all fairly standard, and will need to be accompanied by a Supporting Statement or Letter of Application.  Although your statement should be professional and formal in tone, it is vital that you also convey your passion for teaching and avoid sounding too detached.   Start by examining the Person Specification and then structure your statement according to it, addressing each requirement in the same order as they have been listed in the spec, though where possible stick to the order below, as there is a sensible narrative

If you use the information in this post, please make a donation to a charity close to my heart: Farms for City Children (set up by Michael & Clare Morpurgo)


  • The 1st paragraph should explain in a nutshell why teaching is important to you – the message should be clear and powerful.
  • The 2nd paragraph should explain why you want to work at that particular school. Do your research and find out what their vision, aims and strengths are, and link into this,  but dig beyond the first page of their website. BEWARE: this is about what you can offer the school, not what the school can offer you.

NOTE: The above 2 paragraphs should each  be no more than about 5 lines long.

  • The next part of your statement should be fairly ‘hefty’, and should demonstrate that you have a thorough understanding of the primary school environment. A good approach is to describe in detail what your classroom would be like; the atmosphere, your relationships with the pupils, the physical environment (including displays, the ICT facilities, how the tables are arranged to create a flexible learning space and so on), your behaviour management techniques and how you would support the school behaviour policy (research what this is and the exact term that they use for it), your relationships with the adults in your classroom such as the Teaching Assistants and the parents (and how you communicate with them and build these relationships), your approach to supporting pupils with additional needs, and your use of homework.

NOTE: Avoid referring to yourself as having a ‘subject specialism’. Newly qualified teachers do not have these, you need a Phd to be a specialist.  Instead, you could explain that you have chosen to focus your studies to a particular subject, and that you would like to share this passion with your pupils.  The points you raise in the above section, and the order in which you address them should directly reflect the Person Specification.

If you use the information in this post, please make a donation to a charity close to my heart: Farms for City Children (set up by Michael & Clare Morpurgo)

In the next part of your statement you should reassure them that your numeracy and literacy are at the required standard. You could give an example of a good Maths lesson and a good English lesson. Remember, a good lesson is one where the children learn something, not just one where no-one misbehaves! When describing your English lesson, make sure you mention phonics.

  • Next, talk about how you would go about your professional duties such as assessment, planning, record-keeping, working with your colleagues, and safeguarding your pupils. Also talk about your commitment to CPD and acknowledge that you’re aware of the fact that you’re just starting out and have a lot to learn. This is your ‘good employee’ paragraph!
  • Finally, address any other parts of the Person Specification that have not yet been covered.

Important points

  • You should tweak your statement every time you apply for a different job so that it reflects the Person Specification as closely as possible. Save every version as you can then choose which one you tweak for the next application.
  • Your completed statement should leave the reader with a very clear story, and a clear idea about what drives you to become a teacher and how you would go about your job.

And last but not least…WORDLE IT! Wordle is an easy and fun tool for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in your text, so this is a useful tool to make sure that the key messages in your text are relevant. The words that should stand out in YOUR word cloud are ‘children’ and ‘learning’.

If you use the information in this post, please make a donation to a charity close to my heart: Farms for City Children (set up by Michael & Clare Morpurgo)

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13 thoughts on “Giz a job! – Writing a personal statement or letter of application

  1. Record of CPD box on application forms: ( from Alex via bookface)

    I would put the hub meetings it means anything that you have been to that has improved your professional development so teachmeet, inset session, staff meetings that talked about specific school improvements e.g. improving reading

  2. Thanks Pete, really helpful 🙂 just starting my first application and it is hard to know how to present yourself when you are applying for a job that you aren’t yet qualified for! Donation made and well worth every penny.

  3. Hi Pete, just wondering what do when there is a space on the application form for a supporting statement and they have asked for a letter of application as well? What should I write where? Thank you

    • Amy when I get this on application forms I use supporting statement to refer to the job description for the specific post I am applying for and my experience so far which relates to the post. Then in covering letter a paragraph which refers to why I like their school and I think I am right for the school as a whole rather than the post specifically as this is covered in the supporting statement – knowledge of school referred to based on looking at their website/school visit if gone on one.

    • Supporting statement – personal statement.
      Letter of application – covering letter/email.

      Thats how I would read it at least.

      • HI John – you are wrong.

        Personal statement = letter of application = supporting statement

        Covering letter is just that –

  4. Hi Pete,

    One of your students here at plym uni, and although it is a long way off (i.e. applying for a teaching position) having read this i find it to be a very good guide for how to construct my statement. I will definitely be referring back to this in the future when writing my statement. A simple guide but very effective.


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