Top tips for applying for teacher-training

Our Employment Adviser, Andrew Walton, has some top tips for anyone applying for teacher-training.

My biggest message to anyone applying for initial teacher-training, is to be prepared. Start thinking about what you want to say in your personal statement. What’s going to make you stand out? You may have “always wanted to be a teacher” but why?  What does your experience say about you and how will your study and your degree underpin your application and your ability to teach?  What are the challenges and how will you recognise them?

I often describe the role of a teacher with a rudimentary drawing of an iceberg. Above the surface is the classroom; the teaching, the learning, interaction with pupils and seeing their growth and development.  Under the water lies the planning, marking, curriculum management, planning, behaviour management, parents, staff meetings, marking, assessments, planning…. and so on and it’s important that this is acknowledged.


Many students want to submit an excellent piece of academic writing as their personal statement, however what the reader doesn’t get to see in that is the person who has written the application – their personality; the person who is going to engage with a classroom full of pupils and it’s important to be able to ‘see’ them in a personal statement.

It’s essential to make sure referees have been briefed.  If they don’t submit their references quickly, then this will hold up your application being submitted.  Academics will usually be aware of the process and they understand the urgency, but they can’t be expected to provide a reference at the drop of a hat – forewarned is forearmed. There’s a section on the UCAS site specifically aimed at those giving references, there’s a lot of information and a video guide too – so it’s really useful to send them the link.

The professional skills tests are a constant source of anxiety, panic and on occasion tears.  Just about every student I have talked to about the skills tests has been panicking about the numeracy tests. They all hate maths apparently – think again, it’s problem solving.  Anecdotally, the people who have found the tests OK (and let’s face it, they’re not going to be the best couple of hours of their lives) are the ones who have practised. I have had many students telling me that they found the numeracy easy in the end and the literacy hard. Why? They worried about the numeracy so much that it was all they focussed on and really revised for. They assumed they’d find the English easy.  Practise both.

Final word – think like a teacher: plan, prepare and be organised!


Andrew Walton is an Employment Adviser with the Careers and Employment Service. He works primarily with students from the Sheffield Institute of Education, providing practical support to help them improve their employability by providing one-to-one advice sessions, workshops and curriculum delivery, as well as supporting them in their applications for further study – which includes initial teacher-training.