Cover letters are used to accompany your CV when applying for a teaching job in the UK, and are used to introduce yourself and showcase the skills and qualifications that make you stand out from the competition, as well as outline why you are applying for this particular role, in this particular school.
The cover letter should be the part of your application that really sells yourself, while the CV backs up your claims with evidence of your training and experience. Don’t rely on the CV to get you the job, and use the cover letter to exhibit your personality and ambitions.
Your cover letter should begin with an introduction. Include your name, what stage of your career you’re at, how long you have been teaching, and what role you’re applying for.
Pick out some of your most spectacular achievements from your CV, and expand on them – what did you do? Why did you do it? What was the result? Bonus points for linking these achievements to the person specification of the role you are applying for.
Take the opportunity to link everything you’ve just described about yourself back to the job description of the role you are applying for. What specific problems is this school facing, and how will your skills help? What strengths does the school have, and how will you add to them? Make sure you mention why you’re interested in this particular role, and what you like about the school.
Sometimes, a good cover letter comes from knowing what not to say, rather than just saying the right thing. You can have the perfect cover letter, but one wrong step will take it from the hands of the decision maker – right into the wastepaper basket!
First of all – don’t oversell yourself! There’s no point in telling a school that you’re interested in a particular sport or extracurricular activities if you can’t hold up to scrutiny in the interview, or worse yet – you can’t run the activities once you get the job. If you’re interested in something but don’t have the experience, your cover letter is a great place to explain that you’d like to grow your skills in that area. Schools will value your honesty and commitment to improving in your career. (They won’t appreciate you wasting their time by claiming to be able to do things you can’t!)
Avoid using nice-sounding idyllic statements without any substance to back them up. Every teacher “loves children” or wants to “create the next generation of leaders” – instead focus on what you specifically can do to benefit the pupils in your classroom, and why you have chosen those methods over a different approach.
You could be the greatest teacher in the world, but a cover letter full of formatting errors – or worse, spelling mistakes, won’t get you to the interview stage. Spellcheck is your friend – make sure you check your cover letter for errors, and get a friend or family member to check over your cover letter before you submit it.
If you’ve mastered the steps above, here are two things you can do to take your teaching career to the next level:
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