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Applying for your first teaching post

Timeline for application

Final year autumn term onwards: Get prepared

  • Make a list of the local authorities and schools that you would like to work in. Be open-minded about where you will work – looking beyond the North West will increase opportunities.
  • Find out how authorities and schools you are considering recruit.
  • Look out for teaching recruitment fairs, events and workshops – attend all that you can.
  • Collect samples of your work which you can take to interview if relevant such as lesson plans, photographs, examples of children’s work, positive comments from tutors.
  • Consider creating an online portfolio through Teacherfolio, an online recruitment tool used by some Primary and Secondary schools as an additional extra to the traditional application form in teacher recruitment. Applicants build a portfolio on the site and Teacherfolio staff give feedback on new portfolios.
  • Keep up to date with current news in Education:
BBC news TES

November onwards

Look for job adverts from November onwards.

Most jobs are advertised in the spring term with the peak period for job adverts being February to June. Some teaching vacancies, however, (mainly those with teaching pools) are advertised before Christmas, from November onwards.

Finding teaching vacancies

There are many places to look for teaching vacancies, we have listed the main ones below. Most job seekers will use a variety of the sources and websites listed.

Teaching pools
Local authorities and councils
Schools websites
School groups
Diocesan websites
Independent schools
National publications
Teaching recruitment agencies

Visiting the school

  • It is a good idea to contact a school and request to visit before submitting your application to demonstrate your motivation and strengthen your application. Sometimes a school will offer a chance for a visit during the application process. Applicants are not always able to do this and schools understand that. If you are not able to visit, be sure to call the school to explain, and ask any questions that you may have about the school or role. Visits are an ideal opportunity to find out about the school and to highlight your enthusiasm and suitability. Visits are more commonly offered for primary applications.
  • Dress smartly and think carefully about what you need to know. Take note of the school environment – you could be asked to comment on it later at the interview. Ask questions and look interested during your visit.
  • Remember that you are always being observed, from the start to the close of day and during all activities and interactions, including your approach to reception and being shown around the school by pupils.
  • Once you have visited the school you can refer to it in your letter of application or during the interview. Remember to mention things you were impressed with on the visit, this might include the environment, extracurricular activities, ethos, values or teaching methodology among other things.

Application form

Documents the recruiter will provide

There are usually two documents accompanying a vacancy advert – the job description and the person specification:

  • A job description informs you of the day to day tasks that you as a teacher must undertake in your class and school.
  • A person specification lists the skills, experiences, qualifications and knowledge that are required for the post and that an applicant must evidence in order to be selected for interview.

We have provided some examples in our Letters of Application/Personal statement section.

In your application you will need to ensure that you address all parts of the person specification, giving evidence that you have the criteria that the school is looking for.

On receiving applications for a post, the recruiter will look through the forms and do an initial trawl using the person specification. They will be looking for applicants who clearly match all essential criteria. Your task is to make it easy for the recruiter to find what they are looking for so make sure you address the criteria clearly and where possible, in the order used on the person specification.

Documents you will submit as part of your application

The usual method of application to teaching vacancies is via an online application form.

You will also be asked to provide a statement in support of your application, this is known as a letter of application (LOA), supporting statement or personal statement (PS). This will either be part of the application form itself or will be sent as a separate document accompanying your online application.

Where you are asked to provide your statement as an additional document you should attach this with your application. The application instructions should make it clear how to do this.

If you are unsure about what to include where or what is required, check with the school or authority you are applying to – they will be happy to answer your questions and it’s important to get it right.

On some occasions you will also be asked to provide a CV with your application, this is particularly common when you register with agencies.  See our Teaching CV section for more information about how to write a CV and what to include.

Whatever the method, always read the instructions carefully including any guidance notes and complete the application as instructed and always check your application before sending it. Use the Ask a Question service to send statements or CVs to Careers for review. Please allow five working days for us to get it back to you, although we do endeavour to respond as soon as we can.

Additional information

Letters of application and personal statements

Your letter of application is the most important part of the application process. This is your opportunity to match yourself, your skills, experience and abilities to the requirements of the teaching post, and to persuade the governors that you have what they are looking for in their new appointment.

Your letter should normally be no longer than two sides of A4 although you may go over this when addressing the letter formally using postal addresses.

Your letter should be written as a formal letter following standard letter writing rules. Address the letter to the Headteacher and governors of the school to which you are applying. Find out the name of the Headteacher if you can your such as Dear Mrs White & Governors. Conclude the letter formally.

Write the letter in the first person, give it a clear and logical structure and check the spelling and grammar before sending.

Content and structure

The opening paragraph
The main body

Things to include in your letter

Subject strengths
Teaching experience
Non-teaching work experience
Ending the letter

Teaching CVs

The usual method of application to teaching vacancies is via an online application form. However, on some occasions you will also be asked to provide a CV with your application. This is particularly common when you register with agencies. Our Teaching CVs section has information about how to write a CV and what to include.

A CV is a record of the skills, experience and qualifications that you have accumulated and which you can bring to a vacant role or position. Use your CV to highlight relevant knowledge, skills and experience and to show how what you have to offer is a match for the requirements of the post you are applying for.

For a good example of a teaching CV, click the button below.

Sample Teaching CV

What to include in your teaching CV

Contact details

  • Name, address, telephone number, email.
  • Link to LinkedIn, digital portfolio, blog, Instagram or other relevant professional social media


Begin with the most recent i.e. your teaching qualification & degree.  Write a few lines about your degree and teaching qualification – relevant dissertation, curriculum areas/interests

Teaching or education experience

Make the most of this section. Use it to provide information about your teaching practice, including details such as the age range of children you have taught, subjects taught, types of schools, numbers on roll, other teaching experience before you started the course. Put the most recent experience first.


Additional volunteering looks great on a CV, especially if it is education/young people related.  It demonstrates your enthusiasm and commitment to working with children and young people.  You could include brownie volunteering, helping at breakfast clubs/holiday activities and similar relevant experiences.

Employment history

Give brief details of other work experience. Identify skills that are transferable to teaching such as communication, problem-solving, leadership and teamwork.

Additional information

Anything else you can offer the school such as a First Aid certificate, sign language, ICT skills, musical achievements, interests (especially those that demonstrate a skill)


Please include two references.


Include two references.

Edge Hill University should be your first referee. Present as follows:

Teaching References Department
Faculty of Education
Edge Hill University
L39 4QP

Email  – (choose whichever address is applicable to your course):

  • Early Years:
  • Primary:
  • Secondary:
  • FET:      

A second reference is usually required, preferably someone who can comment on your teaching ability such as a teacher from a school where you have completed block school experience.  For church schools, you sometimes need an additional reference from a member of the clergy.

After submission

Once you have submitted your application you need to start thinking ahead to the next stage of the selection process.

  • Keep a copy of everything that you have sent to the school – your interview will pick up on some of the information you have provided.
  • If you have not heard from the school within two weeks of the closing date, don’t be afraid to ring or email to follow up on your application.  If you have not been selected for an interview, ask the school if they could give you some feedback on your application.  If your letter or supporting statement is not right it is best to find out as soon as possible.  Some schools may not offer feedback at this stage but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
  • Keep your teaching applications, notes and information together as these will serve as a reminder before the interview.  If however, you find that you are not getting called for an interview or have any concerns about your application then make an appointment with a Careers Adviser or use  Ask a Question to submit the person specification and letter of application for the last post you applied for so that a Careers Adviser can give you some written feedback.

Teaching interviews

On interview day, remember that one of the key characteristics that Head Teachers will be looking for in candidates is the ability to engage effectively with students. Despite being in a room you have never been in, in a school that is new to you, with students you have never met before – it is very important to try and develop a relationship with the young people at every opportunity.


Preparing for your interview

Before you start to think about the questions you might be asked, you will need to prepare for the other aspects of your interview. These could include a presentation and teaching a lesson or part of a lesson as well as the panel interview.

  • Check the details you were sent when you were invited to interview so you know exactly what you need to prepare for
  • Research the school and the area, find out as much as you can about the school and the children you will be teaching. Think about any particular issues and challenges and ways in which you would deal with these.
  • Prepare your lesson and produce a plan you can share with the interview panel, prepare materials and resources and anticipate any questions that might be asked afterwards.
  • Look at the job description and person specification so you are clear about what the job involves and what the recruiters are looking for.
  • Think about evidence that shows you match the job requirements. Try to think of 2 – 3 examples to evidence each criterion from the person specification so you have examples to hand if asked at an interview. Practise using the STAR technique for competency questions. You can find out more about this technique in our STAR framework resource
  • Look back at your application and remind yourself what you have told the recruiters.
  • If you have been asked to provide links to a teaching portfolio – or if you have decided to take one anyway – make sure this is up to date and has examples of all of the experience and skills you wish to evidence.
  • Make sure you are up to date with the latest developments in education policy and practice and the curriculum and teaching methodology for the subject and age range you plan to teach.
  • Think about interview questions you may be asked – for some ideas see the Teaching interview sample questions | targetjobs.
A typical interview schedule
On the day
Further reading and resources

Teaching outside England

Many graduates decide to teach outside of England. Depending on where you want to teach the steps required and places to look for vacancies will differ. If/how you can complete your teaching induction after finishing your initial teacher training can differ greatly outside of England. If you are considering teaching outside of England, be sure to make an appointment with Careers to go through this in more detail. Use the links below to find out more about teaching in other parts of the UK, Ireland and the rest of the world:

ECT (Early Career Teacher) Induction Abroad
ECT (Early Career Teacher) Induction Wales
ECT (Early Career Teacher) Induction Scotland
ECT (Early Career Teacher) Induction Ireland