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Applying for PGCEs and PGDEs: Perfecting your personal statement

Making a strong application is a crucial element in achieving a place on a Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE).

Your teacher training personal statement can often be the deciding factor when tutors are considering who to call for a formal interview. As admissions tutors may read through hundreds of applications, the presentation and content of your information are critical.

Before you begin, make a few notes to focus your thoughts and allow yourself a couple of weeks to fine tune your statement before finally submitting it. Show it to your friends and family, be prepared for constructive criticism and use a spell check facility to ensure your spelling and grammar are accurate.

You are applying for highly competitive programmes of study so don’t be afraid to sell yourself and outline your relevant achievements.

Two students are looking at a laptop.

Things to include in your PGCE and PGDE personal statement

You have only limited space for your personal statement, so it is important that you mention all the key information necessary to make a good first impression. Be concise and do not repeat information that you may have included elsewhere in the application.

Your personal statement will be in two parts. You will need to explain why you want to be a teacher and what you know about the subject you want to teach.

You should open each answer with an effective sentence and end with a brief summary.

A teacher is pointing to a classroom of students. One student has their hand in the air.

Why you want to be a teacher

This is your opportunity to share what inspires you about teaching. You should outline in up to 600 words your motivations and goals in applying for an initial teacher training programme.

You could include in your answer:

  • Why you want to study a particular PGCE or PGDE.
  • Why you want to teach a particular subject or age group.
  • Your perception of the demands and rewards of a career in teaching.
  • The personal qualities that would make you a good teacher.
  • How you could contribute to a school outside of the classroom.
  • Any past experience working with children or young people, and what you learnt.
  • Your thoughts on welfare and education.
  • Your future career aspirations.

Your suitability to teach a subject or age group

This is your opportunity to explain what you know about the subject you want to teach. You should provide a detailed summary, of up to 400 words, of the knowledge and interest you would bring to your intended PGCE or PGDE.

Relevant evidence to highlight in your answer, if applicable, could include:

  • The subject of your undergraduate degree.
  • Modules you studied as part of your degree.
  • The subject of a postgraduate taught degree, MRes or PhD.
  • Your A Level or BTEC subjects (or equivalent).
  • Any days you have spent working or volunteering in schools.
  • You should include details of the age range(s), what you observed during your school experience, the types of tasks undertaken, and what you learnt from your time in the classroom and other settings.
  • Any experience outside of the classroom with children or young people.
  • Any relevant additional work history, hobbies or interests.

The application process can seem daunting at times but effective planning and preparation, including dedicating sufficient time to writing on your personal statement, is the key to a submitting a strong application.

It is particularly important to be clear about your time spent in school, making sure you highlight how much time you spent on your school experience, the age range of pupils, and what you learnt.

A teacher is sat with a group of students at a table.

Relevant information about yourself

Your personality and experience will contribute to whether you’re accepted for a PGCE or PGDE, so it’s important to consider how these portend to teaching. Think about:

  • What interests you
  • Any qualifications or personal achievements
  • Any transferrable skills or experiences
  • What motivates and inspires you

Remember to stay relevant and ensure that any information you include highlights your suitability for the course.


How long should a personal statement be for PGCE and PGDE?

Your teacher training personal statement can be up to 4,000 characters; this is normally around 600 to 700 words, so make sure you have everything covered within this limit. Check that all the grammar and punctuation is correct, and be sure to read through your statement plenty of times to check it flows well.

How do I start my personal statement for teacher training?

Once you’ve considered why you want to be a teacher, why you’re a good candidate and what inspires you, it’s time to start your personal statement. 

When writing your introduction, get straight to the point: explain why the course excites you and what you’d like to achieve from it. Avoid clichés and quotations; what’s important is that you convey your reasons for wanting to study the course.

You may find it easier to write an introductory paragraph last, after you’ve made your argument as to why you deserve a place on the course. However you choose to work, make sure your introduction covers the key points mentioned above.

Further advice on applying to a PGCE or PGDE

If you are applying to Edge Hill University and would like any additional advice about writing a personal statement as part of your application for a PGCE or PGDE, please contact Course Enquiries on 01695 657000 or email [email protected].

Further tips and advice are also available on the Get into Teaching website.

Three students are looking at something on a table.

July 11, 2022