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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 interview reports for teacher training interviews at www.kent.ac.uk/careers/ivreps/ivrepsmenu.htm
How to write an outstanding personal statement
Psychology student's application for primary PGCE
Mature psychology student's application for primary PGCE
Application for PGCE Secondary English
Application for PGCE Secondary English and Drama
Writing a Personal Statement for Postgraduate Study Applications
How to write a CV Personal Statement or Career Aim
Practice Interview for Teacher Training
Teaching Careers page
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."
Read and follow the guidelines carefully and provide the required information.
Word-process your draft, then spell and grammar check it before pasting it into the form.
Use good English. If your statement is fresh, lively, and different, you'll be putting yourself ahead of the crowd.
Be clear and concise. Don't woffle! Show the ability to put the salient points across in a few words. Avoid jargon
Be positive and enthusiastic: selectors will read many statements and you want yours to stand out.
Give your statement a structure with an introduction, a main body and a conclusion. The opening paragraph is important as it is here that you grab the reader's attention or lose it. This paragraph becomes the framework for the rest of the statement. The middle section might detail your interest and experience in teaching, as well as your knowledge of the field.
Read your statement very carefully. Get your final draft checked by friends, academics or the duty careers adviser.
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, co-ordination 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
Convey your enthusiasm and motivation for the job.
Don't try to write what you think they want to hear, write your real reasons.
Was there a particular teacher who inspired you?
What interests you about teaching?
Have you talked to practising teachers?
What skills do you have that will make you an effective teacher?
You MUST give examples of where you have demonstrated these.
What are your strengths? How are you better than other applicants? Do you also know your weaknesses?.
Other work experience can show general teaching skills. Show how the skills you gained will help you become an effective teacher. What skills have you learned from your vacation work:
What personal skills can you offer? Describe anything that shows:
When you had to use your initiative.
Determination/resilience. Have you had to overcome any obstacles or hardships in your life?
Creativity and imagination
Time management and organising skills
Energy and enthusiasm
Flexibility and versatility
Responsibility and dependability
Ability to work with little supervision.
Desire to continue learning
Why this PGCE subject/age group?
What appeals to you about the course ? Research the university/college and the PGCE.
Be up-to-date on educational issues, especially the National Curriculum. and how relevant to the national curriculum. Find out the key stage 3 and 4 syllabus for your subject via National Curriculum Online
Be clear about why you have chosen your PGCE subject.
"There was lots of stress on the specific qualities/skills of teachers: it helps to be up-to-date on educational issues, especially the National Curriculum. However most of the questions were fairly easy and a matter of common-sense."
Applicant for secondary PGCEs
What is the relevance of your degree? Are there particular modules or projects you have done that relate to the curriculum?
How did you develop your subject knowledge?
How will the skills and knowledge gained from your degree help you in the classroom?
When did you first become interested in this field and what have you learned about it?
How have you learned best: through classes, seminars, work or conversations with academic staff?
Give evidence of interest in the age range for which you have applied. What key stage are you most interested in and why?
For Primary you need to show knowledge of maths, science and English. What is the relevance of your degree subject to primary teaching?
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.
"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
Reflect on observing the teachers.
Keep a log book of your experience. What did you do? What did you learn from it? What insights did you gain?
What was the classroom layout? What would be your ideal classroom setup?
If a lesson did not work, think about how you would do it differently.
What teaching styles were used?
Was there effective use of technology (white boards, TV, computers)?
How did the teacher's personality affect their teaching style?
How was bad behaviour managed?
How did they help less able children?
How did the teacher assess work and give feedback?
how did they work with Teaching Assistants? What was their role in the classroom?
What reading schemes were used? (Primary)
What makes a good lesson?
How would you make your subject interesting?
What are the important issues facing schools at the moment?
What improvements could be made to schools?
What differences are there between university and school education?
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 evodence . 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
Language skills including minority languages such as Chinese
Sport: to help coaching school teams,
Drama: putting on the school play,
Music: school orchestra, choir or assemblies
Art: designing sets for plays
Sentences such as "In my spare time I enjoy music, reading and socialising with friends" do not add to your application!
You can also explain here anything not mentioned elsewhere on the application,
You also have 20 lines in which to list where you have worked (paid and unpaid), dates, job titles, employers and responsibilities. Use the personal statement to amplfy how this work experience is relevant to teaching.