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James smiling in the learning centre

Transitioning from student to graduate

This blog post is about how I am transitioning from finishing my degree to getting a job. I will be sharing some of the ways that I was successful in securing a full-time teaching job, which I start in just over a months’ time!

I cannot believe that I am coming to the end of my three years of teacher training at the University of Brighton. I have had such a fantastic time and made so many friends that I will be keeping in touch with after I graduate.

James smiling in the learning centre

At the beginning of the year, I was on placement teaching at a primary school in Lancing. During this very busy time, teaching jobs were beginning to get advertised back where my family live in London. I was very nervous to apply for my first ever full-time job, but I thought it would be a great experience to practice the process.

Step 1: Research the school and job advertisement

When I saw the advert for the teaching job, the first thing that I did was research the school online. I was very impressed with the virtual tour and thought I would fit in well with the school ethos. I also had a thorough look through the job advert and liked the part which said they were looking to employ a teacher that had a good sense of humour. This gave me the impression that the school was a relaxed environment that cared about their staff.

Through doing this research, I decided that I wanted to work at the school and I began my application.

Step 2: Fill in personal details

When applying for teaching jobs, CVs are rarely used in the process. This meant that the initial part of applying required providing details, such as school grades and experience in the field. In this section I included all my experience of working with children, such as at schools that I have volunteered at before university and my three teaching placements.

Step 3: Write a personal statement

The next part of the process required writing a personal statement, which tends to be around 500 words (approximately 1-2 typed pages). This statement is all about why you would be a good person to employ, it is important to be positive about yourself and bring in any achievements that you think will set you apart from other applicants. I closely linked my statement to the schools values and explained how I achieve each of these in my classroom.

Step 4: Cover letter

After completing the personal statement, I wrote a cover letter to the Headteacher of the school. This should be no more than one typed page. The letter should encapsulate why you want to work at the school and link specifically to them, for instance discussing their policies. When writing the cover letter, I found the following website useful for key tips.

When writing both the personal statement and cover letter, I would recommend getting somebody to read these for you. As I was on placement at the time, I got my class teacher to check both of my written pieces and was offered some useful feedback. I also sent a copy to my Personal Academic Tutor (PAT) at the university who helped me to include some extra things in my writing to make me stand out.

Step 5: Interview

Interview graphic

I received a response from the school within a week inviting me to interview! I remember only having a day to prepare my responses, so I was a bit nervous. Due to the pandemic, my interview was carried out on zoom with the Headteacher and Deputy Headteacher. The night before I wrote some key notes about specific teaching areas, such as behaviour management, safeguarding and assessment. This prepared me for the interview because I had rehearsed my responses in these areas with a friend the night before.

As soon as the interview began, the Headteacher calmed me by stating that interviews are very nerve-wracking and assured that it was not a problem to pause to think about my responses after each question. This encouraged me and when I felt like I needed a minute to think about my response, I would pause and then answer. I made sure that my responses were specific and had plenty of examples, such as strategies that I use in the classroom and how completing Bronze, Silver and Gold Duke of Edinburgh awards enhanced my team working skills.

Waiting for the call

After completing the interview, I was told that I would get a call at the end of the week. I remember the Headteacher phoning at the end of the day to offer me the job which was fantastic! I was so proud to have secured a job, it took the pressure of finishing my placement in March and allowed me to focus on finishing final year.

In terms of fitting the application process around my studies, I scheduled in specific time in the evening to complete each stage of the process. I would recommend making a list or keeping a diary, so you give yourself a set time to complete the application.

I hope you have found this blog useful about the job application process, especially for trainee teachers! I wish you all the best for your future endeavours.


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James Lewington • 12th May 2021

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