Top tips for a teaching job application

This week’s blog has been written by Anthony Lowton from Prospero Teaching, Liverpool.  Prospero Teaching is a specialist, award-winning, teaching agency with dedicated teams of candidate managers, compliance and in-house teacher resources.  If you’re applying for a teaching job here are Anthony’s top tips to help you secure your dream role…

It is important to take time when writing your application form. This is your opportunity to create a good impression for the decision maker. As a result of this, it is important to show the correct combination of skills, qualities and experience, making you the best candidate for the vacancy. Always present yourself in a positive light, and give evidence of how you meet all the job requirements.

Tailor your application & covering letter

Successful applicants explain why they are applying for this particular job at this particular school.

  • Do your research and show how you’re going to add value to the school.
  • The most impressive applications are from people who’ve been on the school’s website, read their prospectus, read the Ofsted report – and they can talk excitedly about the things the school is doing.
  • Always read the specification, if it says you are required to teach A-level and you don’t or don’t mention a willingness to learn it shows you haven’t read it.
  • Show exactly how you fit the person specification not only through what you’ve already done but what you would like to do next.
  • If the deadline’s far enough away, phone the school and ask them to send you anything (newsletters, for example) that aren’t on their website.
  • Call and see if you can visit the school prior to completing your application, this will show your genuine interest in the role and will allow you to refer back to visiting the school in your application.

Structure your letter

Include your name and address on the right hand side. Then on the left include the date, name of recipient (if you’re unsure telephone the school and check the spelling) and the address of the school. It’s better to be accused of being too formal, rather than not formal enough, so begin with ‘Dear Mr/Ms…’

Always consider your audience when preparing your application. Do not say something in a letter that you would not say to the person in a face to face situation.

Be aware that schools will receive a number of applications, so avoid long paragraphs and make your application as easy to read as possible.

Don’t leave any blanks

Fill in all of the sections of the application form, including a full work history.

Gaps in employment make it look like you’re hiding something, whatever the reason highlight all the positives for gaps. If you have worked in a different sector think about the transferable skills you have.

Sell yourself

Be enthusiastic about your subject, why do you teach it, what do you enjoy. Include hobbies on your personal statement, it makes you a more rounded person. But don’t include ‘socialising with friends’ that can just translate to going out drinking.

Don’t think that your skills are irrelevant. If you play the piano, mention it. It might be that the school has a piano sitting in the corner of the hall and no teachers who can play it. The school won’t give you a job on that fact alone, but it might help draw attention to your application.

Don’t forget the kids

Schools make a comment that people tend to talk about themselves an awful lot and not about the students as much as they could. Show an awareness of the students’ needs and the local community.

Make reference to how you have helped to raise student attainment and how you have impacted student life.

Prove you can have an impact

Focus on the impact that you’ve had in previous positions, ask yourself:

  • “What have you actually done and what did this achieve?”

Make sure you can back up all of your points with relevant examples.

Proofread before you send

When sifting through a pile of applications schools can usually halve the pile by getting rid of those making basic mistakes.

  • Don’t get the name of the school wrong.
  • Check who the application needs to be sent to, don’t just send it to the Headteacher. It sounds obvious but make sure you get their name right.
  • Use a spell check or ask someone to read of your application.

Keep it concise

  • After tailoring your application letter, it should not exceed two sides of A4.
  • Don’t send a CV unless you are asked for one.
  • Don’t send irrelevant information such as a testimonial from your summer job in Spain. Send what the school has asked for which will usually be an application form and a covering letter.

Applying as an NQT?

  • Provide details of your training course, including the age range and subjects covered, and any special features, such as intervention placements, early years placements or family and community placements.
  • Tell the reader what year groups you have taught and the subjects you have covered. Give examples of how you planned and delivered lessons; monitored and evaluated learning outcomes – including differentiation and behaviour management.
  • Particular emphasis should be paid to your experience of working with teaching assistants and/or parents in your class.
  • You will be asked about your philosophy of teaching and learning. Ensure that you can articulate your vision and beliefs about early years/primary/secondary education.
  • You could be up against teachers with years of experience. Use any particularly good comments from observations in your personal statement. This is really useful if you are a NQT.
  • DON’T be negative about any previous schools.

Be honest on your application

Be honest, don’t be tempted to change that D to a C in your qualifications. If you get the job they WILL check.

If interviewed you will be questioned using your covering letter. Don’t say you do certain things in the statement and not have real examples when interviewed.

Always remember “A good application will get you the interview; a good interview will get you the job.”

If you would like any help or advice with your application you can contact Prospero:

  • Phone: 0151 305 7260
  • Text: 07387 023 347
  • Email:
  • Address 6th Floor Horton House, Exchange Flags, Liverpool, L2 3YZ

Good luck!

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