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Writing a personal statement for a PGCE

How To Write a PGCE Personal Statement

Your personal statement is crucial to the success of your application and must be well written, concise, well-structured. It must also clearly demonstrate your reasons for choosing teaching and your commitment and suitability for this career in only 47 lines!

Before applying, do your research. Find out what being a teacher is really like. Get experience in a school, talk to teachers and read careers information.

General Tips:

  • Compose your statement in Word and cut and paste it into your online application. This will allow you to ensure it fits, that you have used spell check and have proofread it to ensure its word perfect. Personal statements with a poor level of written English will be rejected.
  • Use Verdana 12 as this is the size and font used by UCAS.
  • Ensure it has a good structure with an introduction, a middle and a conclusion.
  • Get someone to check your final draft who is knowledgeable in this area and whose judgement you trust.
  • Research the Training Provider you are applying for. Which skills/experience/qualifications do they expect?

Your Personal Statement should:

  • be persuasive
  • be fluent, realistic, relevant and specific
  • mention young people- it is about enabling them to learn rather than why you want to teach
  • be honest

Avoid:

  • overuse of short sentences all beginning with ‘I’
  • general statements and narrative
  • I feel/think/believe – instead, use positive action words e.g. planned/managed/implemented/organised
  • making a statement without having evidence to back it up

Sections in your Personal Statement:

  • Introduction- why teaching and why you?
  • The relevance of your work experience
  • What subject you want to teach and why?
  • Additional factors
  • Concluding paragraph

1.Introduction

Why teaching?

  • What is your motivation? What has influenced your decision to teach? Avoid ‘I have always wanted to teach’ or ‘I believe teaching is worthwhile’ or ‘I like children’.
  • Concentrate on what influenced your decision to teach, how the idea has developed and what can you offer in terms of personal skills and attributes.
  • Have certain people influenced you? Why? How?
  • Show your desire to work with young people and refer to evidence.

Why you?

Make a list of skills and qualities that you have that can be linked to all the key skills that make an effective teacher and how you can demonstrate this with examples:

  • Organisation
  • Communication
  • Empathy
  • Creativity
  • Energy & enthusiasm
  • Resilience
  • Responsibility
  • Commitment
  • Love of subject
  • Team player

2.Relevant Experience

School-based experience:

  • Where? Try to avoid visiting the school you attended as a pupil
  • How long for? One day is not enough time to see what it means to be a teacher, you need at least a minimum of 5 days experience if you don’t have the opportunity to work within a school environment.
  • What did you do? Did you observe lessons, work as a TA, attend meetings/training/ research curriculum/teaching and learning/had a focus on EAL or SEND pupils?
  • What Key Stages did you experience? Make sure it is relevant to the specific PGCE course you are applying for.
  • What techniques did you observe? Effective and not effective and why?
  • Show your awareness of teachers’ roles and responsibilities including:
    • Lesson-planning
    • Classroom organisation
    • Classroom management
    • Inclusion/ diversity issues e.g. English as an additional language (EAL); special educational needs (SEND); disadvantaged pupils and gifted and talented pupils.

Always say what you have done and how it demonstrates the skills required as a teacher. For example, ‘reading with a group of pupils showed me that…’ or ‘working with a low ability group allowed me to…’

Other work with young people (paid/unpaid): 

  • Youth groups
  • After school groups
  • Mentoring
  • Summer camps

What if you don’t have any relevant experience?

Very few PGCE courses will even give you an interview if you do not have or had a minimum of 5 days experience (preferably more) of school-based work experience. If you do not have any experience think about delaying your application a year and plan a programme of experience or apply for Teaching Assistant/ Pastoral roles within a school setting to give you a stronger application.

3. What subject you want to teach and why?

  • For Secondary, you need to show that you are passionate about your subject area and passing on that enthusiasm to young people.
  • Link to relevant work experience, what have you observed and match your skills to this.
  • Refer to any research you have done regarding your subject and also the curriculum/ examinations you would be required to teach at that Key Stage
  • Link your qualifications and wider reading to your subject knowledge, if your qualifications are not relevant you need to show how you are going to develop your subject knowledge in order to teach the subject.
  • State why you have applied to this particular type of PGCE course e.g. school-based/ flexibility/ reputation.

4. Additional Factors

  • Hobbies linked to the profession/ skill set e.g. value-added skills such as sport, music, language etc.
  • Additional courses you have completed/ completing e.g. ICT, subject knowledge enhancement course etc.
  • Further experiences planned for the future prior to commencing a PGCE course.

5. Concluding Paragraph

  • State your commitment to the course, acknowledge that teaching requires dedication, stamina, time management, being pro-active
  • Reinforce your reasons for being committed to teaching
  • Demonstrate awareness of the physical and mental demands of the course and the profession
  • Career plan – what is your goal for your teaching career?

A teacher’s must-have qualities:

  • Energy
  • Dedication
  • Patience
  • Enthusiasm
  • Control
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Ability to think of their feet
  • Stamina
  • Creativity
  • Good time-management

 

Background Reading

www.ucas.com/ucas/teacher-training 

Times Educational Supplement (www.tes.com)

www.theguardian.com/education

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