How to maximise your chance of being accepted for a teacher training place

The application

 Make your personal statement as detailed as possible – explain why you want to be a teacher – NB: long holidays or ‘works well with childcare’ are not good reasons! You need to mention what it is about teaching children that appeals to you, and why you feel that you would be good at it – mention your personal qualities, and any relevant experience that you have. Try to show that you understand what the job of teacher entails.

Preparing for interview – do your research.

While it is no longer mandatory to gain school experience in order to be accepted onto a teacher training course, we strongly recommend that you spend some time in a school before your interview. Allow plenty of time to arrange this: while most schools are very happy to accommodate people wishing to get a taste of what it is like to work in a school, they are very busy places and may not be able to give you a date immediately. Obviously the longer the time spent there the better, but one day is better than nothing. Ask if you can shadow a teacher or a pupil and have some questions ready to ask yourself while you are there – what different things do the staff do? What are the expectations of the children? How does the curriculum work across the day/week? You can contact a school directly, or see here for how to arrange it through the Department for Education programme.

Read up about teaching. Look up the teacher standards, the national curriculum and the exam specifications for your subject or phase. Read the OFSTED framework for inspecting schools.

Make sure you have all your original exam certificates as you will usually be asked to bring them with you to interview. You can order them from exam boards or universities if you don’t have them, but this takes time so be prepared. See our Teachincambs FAQs for advice on how to do this. Provisional results are unlikely to be accepted.

The interview

It may sound obvious, but work out how you will get there.  Teachers have to be organised and able to come up with solutions: it doesn’t impress the teacher training provider if you ring up to ask for directions, or about public transport options.

Dress appropriately. Most schools have a staff dress code, which is generally smart, and often more conservative than many offices – so no miniskirts, leggings or flip flops; no jeans or t-shirts. You do have to be able to move freely around a classroom, so avoid tight suits or other restrictive clothing – but if in doubt, dress up rather than down.

You will usually be asked to deliver a short lesson – 10-20 minutes long – to a class or group of students. You will be told the topic and the year group. When planning this, don’t over-complicate it: the panel want to see that you have some idea of the ways in which children learn, and that you can interact effectively with them. Your pre-interview research will be very useful here.

You might be asked to participate in a group discussion or task with other candidates – if so, remember that the panel is looking not just for how much you know, but how well you work with others as a team.

In the interview itself, give examples to back up your answers. These could come from what you have read or seen when in a school.