If you’re an early career teacher (ECT; still known in Wales as an NQT), then a well-written ECT personal statement is the bridge between you and an interview for the school of your choice. But how to write a personal statement?
While Googling examples of ECT personal statements can sometimes prove helpful, it can also just lead to more confusion. There’s a reason for that. Whilst it’s helpful to get some guidance on what people are looking for, at the end of the day, the personal touches on your statement are what make you stand out. Sticking rigidly to someone else’s template is a risky road to take.
Most people will admit to finding personal statements tedious things to write, particularly when tailoring them to multiple different applications. Protocol Education can help you find an ECT job for September without the need to handcraft dozens of personal statements.
Our ECT Pool consists of a single application form, a few chats with your consultant and interviews in schools where you want to work. Find out more about the ECT Pool here.
However, if you’re dead set on a particular job which expects you to write a personal statement as part of the application process, here’s how you do it.
So, let’s think about the actual purpose of the statement, show the school you are the right person for their job, the right fit for their school, and how you will benefit their students.
Did you notice how many times I used 'their' in that sentence?
This is because a one-size-fits-all ECT Personal Statement is not going to cut it. Any school hiring manager can see straight through a generic, templated statement.
Where do I begin, though, you ask? These tips for writing your personal statement should help you get started.
Read, read, read
The very first thing you need to do is read all the documentation included in the application pack. The letter, the job description, the person specification, the application guidance, everything!
Get out your highlighter pen and start reading and colouring in anything that stands out as important. Focus on important things to the school, unique to the school’s ethos, approach, values, and anything that is particularly aligned to your skills and work experience.
Get personal with the Person Specification
Next up, you need to look at what they have specified the essential criteria for the role. Put each point on a sheet of paper and start jotting down notes underneath each showing how you meet that criteria – it could be a qualification, teaching experience, depth of subject knowledge, your extra-curricular interests, your approach to teaching or your particular specialisms.
Get your skeleton structure in place
Good supporting statements share a fairly consistent anatomy. Here’s a handy NQT personal statement example structure:
Your area(s) of interest/expertise: Subjects, age ranges, SEN, all the details relevant to your desired career route and the needs of their role.
Your teaching experience – Include a general overview and a specific example that lets them visualise you in the classroom, how you work, how you support their pupils with their teaching and learning.
Address the Person Spec - This is where you demonstrate how you meet any additional criteria in the Person Specification that haven’t been covered yet. Have they said that experience in a particular area would be beneficial? Are they looking for knowledge of a specific learning style? Do they want some technical expertise to help with blended learning? This is the part to include all that extra detail.
Your USP - Your unique selling point goes in your NQT personal statement here. This is where you make yourself stand out from the crowd – try to answer the question ‘why would you hire you? It may be a specific skill, achievement or experience, your approach to teaching or work, or your alignment to their mission and ethos.
Let’s say you're applying for an SEN primary school that has a sensory garden, and you are an experienced gardener who has been involved in community gardening? Tell them. Do they run a chess club, and you played chess for the county? Let them know. Perhaps they have a dedicated SEN department, and you have volunteered in this area for the past couple of years. Whatever value you can add, it’s on you to make them aware of it.
Sum up what you have learnt in your teacher training and experience so far and how you are looking to develop your skills. Talk about why teaching is so important to you, and explain clearly why you want to work for that particular school.
Finally, the ‘SO-WHAT’ test
Once you’ve written everything up, apply the so-what test to each point.
For every point you have included, ask yourself – so what?
How does this point show I can benefit the students – and if it doesn’t, re-write or remove it. This document is not about what you want for yourself; it’s about what you can give to the individuals you are teaching, and highlighting this throughout is what will make your NQT Personal Statement shine!
Oh, and one last thing – proofread your statement, and proofread it again!
Alternatively, you could just join our ECT Pool to bypass it altogether and start teaching in your first role as an early career teacher. The choice is yours.