“Where do I start?” – Applying for your first post

As it’s the time of year when requests for help on first teaching applications pop up on #ITTChat, I thought I’d sum up the advice I’m giving regularly as one of the resident lurking mentors.

  1. Keep a list of everything you’ve done/achieved – refer to it when you’re looking for examples to support your claims
  2. Read the person specification carefully
  3. Do your research. Each application should be personalised to the school. Try to go beyond the school website and the Ofsted report too -local newspapers etc can also be a good place for information.
  4. Your covering letter should show what you’re about as a teacher. Take time to show your passion for your subject and for education.
  5. Avoid being clichéd e.g. always having wanted to work in a particular environment. Even if it’s true, it’s so over-said that you risk ruling yourself out.
  6. Give examples to support your claims (which is why it’s useful to keep a list of everything you’ve done).
  7. If the post offers A level (or other opportunities like SEND) but you’ve not had the chance in your placements, just show you’re interested and what you’d do to prepare. Try to anticipate reservations in a positive way.
  8. Focus on why the school needs you, not why you need the school.
  9. Share your thoughts/ideas with your mentor. It’s part of what we’re here for.
  10. Ask potential referees if they’ll provide a reference. It’s courtesy to ask before you name them. If you see a job over the holidays, just email and explain. Most people are reasonable and will accept you did follow etiquette.
  11. If you’re lifting sections from previous applications, check any names/schools are changed appropriately.
  12. Check school specific information e.g. who to address the letter to and time specified on the closing date. If it says 9AM, make sure you’re not mentally thinking about ‘by the end of the day’.
  13. Check it for spelling, punctuation and grammar. Don’t rely on spellcheck to find mistakes.
  14. Did I mention proof read it.

A couple of words of caution:

  • It may be tempting and you may want to help a friend out, but don’t share your covering letter with others. Once it’s passed on, it’s out there. How will you explain to a head if they receive two almost identical covering letters? They won’t know who’s the original and even if you’re the honest party, your judgement could be questioned.
  • Avoid spending ages looking online at templates. If you can’t write down why you think you’d be damn good at the role, it’s probably not the role for you.

Remember that the school will have a gap left by the leaving teacher. You can only do so much to prove you fit the gap (because most likely it’s not 100% clear). A school could have 3 amazing candidates, but if one fits the gap more they’ll get the post. Try not to take knockbacks as personal criticisms. There’ll be the right post out there.

Good luck 🙂


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