A well thought-out supporting statement can get you off the starting blocks of the application process. If you really want the role you’re applying for, you have to make sure your statement stands out for all the right reasons and enables you to secure an interview. Based on my experience of reading hundreds of supporting statements, I’ve identified 6 key things to consider when drafting your supporting statement
- Follow the instructions
At the top of the supporting statement section you will usually see instructions which go something like this:
Please review the person specification found within the job description. Record below details of any relevant skills, experience, training or qualifications which make you particularly suited for this position.
You should ensure that any information submitted reflects your experience relating to the requirements of the person specification.
It’s important that you follow the instructions given in order to ensure you don’t miss anything out. It sounds really obvious but you’ll be surprised at how many people just write based on what they think needs to be included and as such run the risk of missing a lot of important points that are considered ‘essential criteria’ in the shortlisting process.
2. Have a structure to your statement
The Person Specification is usually laid out in a specific order and often includes the following areas: (although not always, so don’t email me to tell me the PS you have isn’t laid out the same way!):
- Personal characteristics
If you use the same headings as those on the Person Specification document, they act as a signpost to those reading the supporting statement. They can see almost immediately that you have thought about the application, have written to their requirements and, most importantly, you’ve read through the requirements. The headings also provide an easy signpost for the panel to see how you meet the criteria on the Person Specification. If there’s no structure to your statement and it doesn’t flow, it makes it more difficult to read.
It seems obvious, but part of the structure includes using paragraphs and using them well. If you’re applying for a teaching position, at any level, and you don’t use paragraphs well, you’re on your own!
3. Don’t copy and paste information from one supporting statement to another
Your supporting statement should be written for the school you’re applying for. A generic statement just won’t do and to be honest….it’s just lazy! Most senior leaders would have read hundreds of statements in their time and can tell straight away if you’ve just used the same wording for your application to Block Park Primary as you did for Post Park Primary, without needing to see the other supporting statement. I’m not saying you can’t take out bits and reuse them, but if you decide to just copy, paste and just change the name of the school, you need to question how much you really want the job.
Take the time to learn more about the school and then consider the following: What are their priorities? What were the areas for improvement from their latest Ofsted report? What does their website/Twitter account say about their latest achievements? What does the covering letter for applicants and the job advert say the school is looking for? Use this information to personalise your statement and explain how you can meet their requirements.
4. Use examples of things you’ve done that have made a real impact
When you’re writing about your past experience, one of the key things a panel want to know is ‘what was the impact?’ also known as ‘so what?’ It’s all very well telling me that you were maths lead for 5 years, implemented a new phonics scheme, or devised a new way of monitoring pupil progress, but so what? Lots of people have had those roles and done those things. What was the impact that your changes made? Did the new phonics scheme mean that a higher number of children passed the Phonics Screening Check? If so, what was the number last year and what is it this year now you’ve implemented the scheme. Did the PE event you organised mean more girls became interested in football and enabled you to put together the school’s first mixed football team? If so, let them know. You want the panel reading your statement to see that your intervention made a difference.
5. Check through what you’ve written – and then get someone else to check it as well
Proof reading your supporting statement is a must. We often tell children to ‘read through what you’ve written’ and we need to follow our own instructions. Read through what you have written, out loud. When you read out loud you ‘hear’ what you’ve written and it’s during those times that you tend spot missing words. For example, you realise the word order doesn’t sound right, or you ‘hear’ grammatical errors or realise you’ve waffled a lot in a particular paragraph. As the reader, there is nothing worse than reading through something and seeing errors on every other line. It shows a lack of care and attention to detail, which may make the reader question what these areas are like off the page and if this happens, you may not get past the first hurdle of the application process.
6. Don’t include a CV
This is a quick one. If the application form says ‘CVs are not accepted’ don’t include one. That’s it (told you it was quick)!
These are the starting points for creating a supporting statement that an interview panel will want to read. Take pride in what you write. Give yourself enough time to write the statement, have someone read through it, make amendments and the send off in time for the deadline.
Don’t leave anything to chance. If you really want the job, make your supporting statement count.