Teacher training can be very competitive, so let Prospects guide you through the application process including how to write an outstanding personal statement...

Before completing your application form you need to:

  • choose your training route, age range and/or subject and provider. For help, see routes into teaching;
  • get as much experience as you can in the classroom for the age range you're interested in teaching;
  • make sure you meet the minimum qualification requirements.

Allow yourself plenty of time so that once you have completed everything you can check it all over before sending it off.

How to apply

Postgraduate teacher training applications in England and Wales are made through UCAS Teacher Training (UTT). There is a one off online payment of £24 for all 2017 applications in Apply 1 and 2.

Apply 1: Opens 18 October 2016 for 2017 entry. Applicants make up to three choices, all submitted at the same time. This could be one or all three routes of PGCE, SCITT and School Direct. Your choices are simultaneously deliberated by your chosen training providers. You will then be invited to attend an interview or selection day and training providers must decide on your application within 40 working days. The professional skills tests must be passed as part of the application process.

When you have all of your offers, you have 10 working days to respond and accept one offer.

Apply 2: Opens 9 October 2016 for 2017 entry. If you don't have any offers from Apply 1, you're able to make further applications, one at a time, for any route. You can even keep applying until you're offered a place.

Applications made through UTT will require you to register, set up a login and then submit:

  • your personal information, choices, qualifications and details of your professional skills tests, including your candidate number and test dates if you have completed your tests;
  • a personal statement;
  • details of your school and work experience;
  • two referees.

You should have all these details ready before the application process opens. You can start the application in advance and save each section as you fill in the form. Select 'complete' when you have finished each section. Choices can be amended at any time until you have paid for and sent off your application.

Individual training providers must open their programme to applicants for a minimum of two weeks and can then decide when to close. Many providers will fill their places before Easter or even Christmas. Check the UTT website for guidance and aim to apply as early as possible.

The National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) have responsibility for teacher training allocations in England. For 2016/17 providers will be allowed to recruit as many trainees as they plan to until the national limit has been reached, so applicants are advised to submit early for popular courses.

Application deadlines

Teach First applications opened 8 July 2016 for 2017 entry. They recruit on an ongoing basis so apply as early as possible as some curriculum subjects such as history can fill up quickly.

Researchers in Schools open its applications in early Autumn 2016. While School Direct (salaried) vacancies can be advertised at any point in the year, as the school may find that they have vacancies.

You should check with individual programmes and institutions for specific deadlines.

Teaching personal statements

This is where you explain why you want to become a teacher and demonstrate your strengths, skills and suitability for teaching. You can only use one personal statement for all you choices, however training providers want to know similar information from you.

The UTT personal statement has up to 4,000 characters or 47 lines of text with an introduction, main body and conclusion. Consider writing this in a word document, and then paste it into the box to make sure you don't go over your word limit.

Take your time, be prepared to get feedback and write a few drafts before you send it off.

It's important to:

  • use examples based on your recent teaching experience;
  • tailor your personal statement according to the school/age group;
  • use good, clear, written English, using the first person, such as 'my' and 'I';
  • be original and honest;
  • avoid clichés and general statements such as 'I've always wanted to teach';
  • demonstrate a passion for teaching.

Before drafting your teaching personal statement, think carefully about the things that training providers will want to know, such as:

  • Why do I want to teach? - show that you know about the challenges and rewards of teaching. Maybe talk about any lessons you have observed/taught, what went well and how you would have improved on them. Discuss teaching styles used and the use of technology.
  • Why do I want to teach this age group/at this level? - what appeals to you, use examples of your experience with this group.
  • What are my strengths? - include the relevance of your degree and subject knowledge.
  • What experience do I have? - include any relevant work experience such as leadership, coaching a sports team, youth work or working at a summer camp. Give examples of how this developed your teaching skills.
  • What personal skills/abilities do I have? - for example, initiative; resilience; practical experience, creativity; time management; managing people, organisational skills; listening skills; leading or working in a team and dependability.
  • Do I have any geographical restrictions? - if you don't currently live in the UK, why do you want to study here?

All applications made through UTT are put through a Similarity Detection Service, so make sure you produce your own version. Selectors want to get an insight into who you are and why you're suited to teaching.

For more information, see our example of a personal statement for a PGCE secondary application.


You need to submit the names and contact details of two referees, typically these are your university tutor who will be able to write about your academic progress, and someone who knows you from work, preferably in a school context to comment on your potential development as a teacher.

This is an important part of the process as applications can't be sent until you've attached two references. To help speed this up you should contact your referees before you start.

For more information, see UTT - References for teaching.

Examples of work experience

This is where you evidence your work history, particularly any voluntary or paid time in school in 500 characters. The School Direct (salaried) route asks for three years work experience and all School Direct programmes ask for your full work history so make sure this shows clearly in your application.

This may not fit in the space provided however some of the additional details will go in your personal statement. You can send a summary of your work history or a CV to the training providers, after you have submitted your application to UTT and got your personal ID.

You should include:

  • your school experience, including details of the age groups and subjects you were involved with;
  • your current job and work history;
  • time spent abroad, placements and summer jobs;
  • information to demonstrate your transferable skills, particularly those that would be valuable in the classroom;
  • the average weekly time you spent in each school or role (in the 'hours per week' section).

Professional skills test

During the application process for ITT you're required to pass the professional numeracy and literacy skills tests. Once you have made an application, you're able to register and are advised to book your test as soon as possible.

Your initial skills tests are free, but you will be expected to pay £19.25 for resits. You should give yourself the best chance by practicing beforehand and mock tests are available at Department for Education - Professional skills tests.

The tests are administered by learndirect and can be booked up to three months in advance. Slots are regularly added, so continue to check the website if you need a slot, or ring the learndirect helpline.

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