There's a lot to consider when applying for your first teaching position. Discover where to find teaching jobs, how to write the perfect CV and prepare for interviews
Where to find teaching jobs
You can start your job search in a number of places, including:
- Teaching Vacancies - A free job-listing service from the Department for Education. You can search for a job at a school or Trust in England and set up job alerts.
- Direct applications to schools - Start with where you're working or training. Check your university's jobs portal, talk to staff at the school you're at or your mentor to see if they have any openings. Check individual schools' websites between January and June for vacancies, and use your networks - keep in touch with the schools you volunteered with or worked at previously. Approach schools you're particularly interested in by sending a CV, visiting to discuss your interest in their school where possible. Find out how to write a speculative job application.
- Careers and employability services - These usually run teaching fairs for students, which are attended by local authorities, teaching unions, schools and recruitment agencies. They will probably have an online job portal or board and can give you useful advice on local, national and international opportunities.
- Local authorities - Authorities advertise jobs online, with some offering a weekly or monthly email bulletin service including the latest teaching vacancies. They'll also have details of open days and may operate an NQT pool database, where schools can pick from an approved list of suitable candidates. Pool vacancies are typically used for primary opportunities.
- Newspapers and online - Guardian Jobs, TES and others run job alert services where you can upload a CV or create a profile.
- Vacancies in independent schools - Often advertised with the Independent Schools Council (ISC) and Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS).
- Teacher recruitment agencies - Always check if they or the school they place you in will support you through your NQT year. Some teaching agencies have links with other countries. Talk to national and local agencies and approach local schools to ask which agencies they use. Consider CER, Eteach and Headline Teachers as well as Engage Education, which offers 'iday' - the chance for teaching applicants to travel to their preferred teaching location and interview for a variety of roles.
- Teaching jobs abroad - While this may sound attractive, always check if you're able to complete your NQT year overseas. Most overseas recruiters prefer applicants to have completed a qualification at Masters level, such as a PGCE and have at least one years teaching experience. Programmes such as Participate can help with this.
- Jobs for early years teachers - look for vacancies on sites such as Eteach and DayNurseries.co.uk.
- Further education jobs - look for vacancies on FEjobs and AoC Jobs.
- Search for teaching and education jobs.
How to find the right school for you
- Start looking early and don't just apply to any school.
- Think about what's important to you, considering the ethos, site, size and catchment of the school you'd like to work at.
- Visit any schools you'll be interviewing at, as this will help you to get a feel for the school and find out if it fits your preferences beforehand.
- Take time to read recent Ofsted reports - identify points for improvement, and consider if you have the skills to help in these areas.
If you haven't managed to get a job or don't feel ready to commit to a full-time teaching role, then supply teaching is a good option. You will need to register with an agency, which usually involves submitting an application form or CV then meeting with a recruitment agent.
Supply teaching can be challenging, but it can also be also a good way for you to get experience, try out different schools and get ideas. Ask around for personal recommendations of teaching agencies and look for ones which are strong in your area. Using lots of supply agencies at once can be difficult to manage so consider starting with one or two agencies and if you decide you don’t like one of them, choose another.
It helps to be able to drive, but you don't need to - it will just limit the amount of work you can do. Agencies either book you in advance or you will get an early morning call, around 8am. The more flexible you are, the more work you can get. As you get to know them more, you can work with the agencies to tell them your preferences and strengths.
You should take work with you as a backup in case the school has no tasks prepared for you.
Applying for teaching jobs
Most schools recruit through their own advertisements and selection procedures. The peak time for this is February to June, although jobs may appear throughout the year. 31 May is the final date for teachers to resign when leaving their jobs in the summer. This process can be completed very quickly so get your application in as soon as possible after seeing the advert. You may find success in approaching a school speculatively with a copy of your CV, particularly if you have contacts with them.
Some local authorities, agencies and multi-academy trusts (MATs) run teacher registration schemes, pools and databases, which enable you to complete a single application form and register an interest or apply to work with them, possibly for a particular school.
Registrations may open any time, commonly after Christmas for a September start date.
Be very specific when completing the application form - tell them what you've done, focusing on your successes, giving examples from your time in the classroom. Write a strong 300 to 400-word personal statement, show you understand something about the school you're applying to, talk about your course and what you're bringing to that school. Get some feedback on your form before you send it off.
Visit your careers and employability service as they can help with application forms, interview preparation and they may have a recruitment service with vacancies you can apply for.
Covering two sides of A4 it should demonstrate how and why you teach and who you are as a person. Always read the specification and target your personal statement to what they're looking for. You need to:
- tailor your application to the school, for example their ethos, Ofsted report and latest exam results
- visit the school, as many recruiters view this as a part of the application process and it can help you to see if you would want to work there
- get it proofread to ensure there are no spelling mistakes
- ensure your employment history has no gaps and if it has make sure they’re explained
- tell them what skills and extracurricular opportunities you can bring
- convey a passion for teaching
- evidence your success, where you bring added value and have met targets.
See our teaching personal statement examples.
You might need a teaching CV:
- if you're making a speculative application to a specific school
- to get work through a teaching agency
- if you're looking to move area or country and are unable to visit in person.
Local authorities and schools usually follow 'safer recruitment procedures' and so ask all applicants to complete a standard application form. That way no-one can hide information, which may be possible in a cleverly written CV.
School recruiters expect candidates to have visited before putting in an application. They will be observing you as you go round the school, especially noting how you relate to pupils and staff. This will also help you to decide if it's the right school for you. Refer to the visit and why you want to work with them in your application, ideally in the cover letter.
In common with other CV's a teaching CV should be clear, easy to read and well structured. To make your teaching CV stand out begin with a targeted personal profile of three to four sentences. Some schools or agencies use a targeted personal profile of 300 words, without the whole CV. This helps the reader to decide if they are going to take your application further. Where possible, include a reference quote. School recruiters are busy people so get your work experience on the front page so they can see what you are bringing to their organisation.
Throughout your teaching CV, highlight the qualifications and experience you've gained, including:
- details of your teacher training, plus what you were graded on in your recent teacher training placements
- relevant modules from your degree/postgraduate course
- details of school experience, prioritising where it's in the age range you want to teach
- any other teaching experience e.g. sports coaching, summer camps or youth groups
- relevant voluntary experience
- interests relevant to teaching e.g. musical abilities or sporting activities
- skills that will be useful in the role e.g. leadership, IT and languages
- details of two current referees, ideally one from your teacher training and one from teaching practice.
Learn more about CVs and cover letters.
Visit the school beforehand, plan your trial lesson, prepare well and don't panic - if you've been invited for interview, you're a strong candidate. During the interview, you may complete activities such as:
- tour or interview with pupils in school - this will show how you relate to pupils one-to-one or in smaller groups
- assessment centre - this could include some or all of the following list of tests and exercises. You should be told beforehand what will be expected of you
- group discussion/exercise - these may be with other candidates and will partly be looking at how you operate in a group and contribute actively without dominating
- written maths, ICT and/or English tests - these will be specific to the age and subject you're applying to teach, tests may include marking a pupil's work
- panel or one-to-one interview - typically half an hour to an hour with those relevant to the route and role such as the headteacher/manager, class teacher, PGCE/PGDE tutor or governor
- presentation/teaching or planning a short lesson - check the resources available in the school while you're planning, this may be followed up at interview with questions around assessment, how you feel the session went, learning outcomes and planning
- subject-specific task - for example a practical exercise for PE, music or drama candidates.
You can prepare by:
- gathering examples from your classroom and teaching experience to show how you meet their selection criteria
- reading your application again, particularly your personal statement
- being up to date on current educational issues, such as safeguarding
- being familiar with the national curriculum/early years framework and the relevant government guidelines for your age range and/or subject
- planning answers to typical teaching interview questions to get you started
- doing a practice interview with a teacher/school recruiter/careers adviser or university tutor
- having questions ready to ask them about the school/training/route you're applying for.
- underprepare, as your interviewers will be able to tell
- criticise another school or institution
- downplay your achievements; this interview is the time to be confident about your abilities
- do all the talking - remember that an interview is a dialogue
- forget to share examples of your teaching experience. You must back up any statement with evidence.
- sound confident, not arrogant
- act in a professional manner from the moment you enter the school
- be honest, as your interviewers want to see who you are.
Find out more about what to expect and how to prepare with our interview tips.