Applying for a job

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05 July 2017
As a trainee or newly qualified teacher, from January and February onwards, you’ll need to think about what job you want in September.


If you’re a newly qualified teacher facing an induction period, look out for vacancies that refer specifically to newly qualified teachers – in other words, vacancies that carry no extra responsibility points.

Maintained schools have a large amount of discretion over teachers’ pay, so it is important so check your starting salary and how you will progress on any pay scale. Independent schools, academies and free schools are free to set their own pay and conditions, so it’s important to check the terms and conditions when considering a job in these schools.

There’s often more variety and choice in the weeks following the three deadlines for resignations from teaching posts in maintained schools – commonly 31 October, 28 February and 31 May. The following are good places to start when you’re looking for vacancies:

  • local authority job bulletins
  • school or academy websites
  • the Times Educational Supplement and online at
  • The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Times
  • The Church Times (Church of England), The Universe (Roman Catholic), The Jewish Chronicle and The Daily Jang (a leading Asian paper), if you’re looking for a post in a denominational school
  • contacts you make while on school placement or while doing supply work – never underestimate the value of networking.
  • ATL also offers a job finder service for new teachers.


Most schools ask applicants to complete application forms rather than apply by CV and covering letter. Spending time on the application form, and carefully planning what you intend to include, will pay off.

Your real opportunity to stand out from the other candidates is in the supporting statement. The applicant profile/person specification describes the technical and personal skills, qualifications, knowledge and experience required of the successful candidate. In order to complete this section with relevance to the post, read the applicant profile in detail so that you can match your application with what the employers are actually looking for. Points will usually be listed as either essential or desirable – you need to have all the essential ones, and as many of the desirable ones as possible.

If you’re not confident that you fit the applicant profile, you should think carefully about whether you want to apply for the job; it is most likely that the profile will form the basis of the assessment criteria, both at the shortlisting stage and during the interview.

If your supporting statement has been well written, there will be no need to include anything more than the basic information in the cover letter. Occasionally, candidates are asked to apply for a post by letter and CV, particularly in the independent sector. It is a good idea to have an up-to-date CV ready for this reason.

Applying by letter and CV means your covering letter has to be far more detailed than it would be if accompanying an application form. It must also include a detailed supporting statement that relates directly to the applicant profile and job description.

Choosing your referees

Think carefully about your choice of referees. People you choose must be appropriate to teaching, and your contact must be recent.

Your referees must also be in a position to match your qualities to the job in question, so you’d be wise to provide them with copies of the job description and applicant profile as well as your application before they write their statements.

Good choices of referee would be your tutor from your initial teacher training institution or, if you are a prospective returnee, your most recent headteacher.

If you’re applying to a denominational school, it would be wise to include a member of the appropriate clergy. You must gain each potential referee’s permission before including his or her details on an application form.

Preparing your portfolio

Portfolios are an essential method of demonstrating past work, skills and excellence in your professional life. For trainees and newly qualified teachers, they’re important accessories to applications, especially in the primary and special needs sectors.

By highlighting your successes, you offer interviewers an extremely positive focus for questioning – as well as allowing your skills to speak for themselves!

The following items could be included in your portfolio:

  • a sample of your planning, both medium and short term
  • an example of your assessment of pupils’ work
  • photographs of displays, special events such as class outings you have been involved in, or visiting speakers
  • samples of pupils’ work (particularly work that reflects the standards you value or your
  • philosophy of teaching)
  • samples of your work and pupils’ work that indicate your understanding of current education issues.

Find out more in Ready, Steady, Teach.