Pupil in a class led by a Teach First teacher

Hints and tips for your application

Hints and tips for your application

Success with your application form

To apply for our Leadership Development Programme you will need to complete an online application form, and if successful, you will be invited to an assessment centre. The application form includes competency based questions, and a situational judgement test, as well as being the place where we gather relevant personal and academic information.

Do your homework

We are looking for you to demonstrate strong enthusiasm and commitment as well as an understanding of our vision and the journey you will take to become an effective Teach First ambassador. Read our website, search the web and make sure you fully understand what we do and why it’s important.

Use your best examples

The online application is your opportunity to demonstrate some of the competencies which we think are essential for success on our Leadership Development Programme. When answering the competency-based questions, we recommend that you take time to consider what example you use for each question. The first one that comes to mind might not be the best. Feel free to draw on professional, voluntary, personal or academic experiences. We are more interested in the skills and behaviours you have demonstrated than the opportunities you have had. Be explicit in your answers, we cannot infer or assume.

Your application form will be blind screened, meaning that all personal data will be removed. Any information previously shared with us will not be viewed. Your responses to the competency questions are your opportunity to demonstrate your true potential.

Remember that you are only able to complete one application per recruitment season. Take a moment to consider whether your responses to the competency questions showcase your abilities

Reflect on your answers

Once you have written your answer, re-read the question to make sure you have fully answered it. The question will outline which competency we are expecting you to demonstrate so check that you’ve addressed this in your answer. The word count is not just a limit on what you are able to write – it is a general guide to the level of detail we expect to see within your responses. You can effectively answer a question in under the word count; however if you are significantly below you may wish to consider whether you have fully answered the question. If you have up to 250 words, are you confident that an answer of 45 words provides a sufficient level of detail to fully demonstrate that competency at a high level?

Try using the CAR structure for your answers

We’re looking for plenty of detail in your answers. To help you cover all the necessary points, try using the following structure in the competency choice question:

C: provide the Context for the situation;
A: focus on what Actions you took
R: include what the Result was

Don’t lie, or exaggerate the truth

Never lie on your application form. You are likely to be caught out in the interview or later in the recruitment process. If you are offered a place on our programme you will have to provide references and original certificates of your qualifications.

Check your spelling and grammar

Applications with five or more spelling and/or grammar errors will be failed. Make sure you proof read your answers to help you identify and correct any errors. Proof reading is also an opportunity for you to reflect – do you think that you have answered each of the questions to the best of your ability? If you have written your answers in a word processing program and pasted them into the form, please double check that you have correctly pasted answers into the appropriate question.

Ensure that you complete your answers

Make sure that your response completely answers the question you have been asked.

In the Understanding and Motivation question, we highlight three areas which we recommend you consider. Have you addressed all of these elements?

In the Leadership question, focus on one example to enable you to go into a sufficient level of depth and detail.

In the competency choice question, you should also focus on one example to enable you to go into detail. We also recommend that you take time to reflect on the competency that you have chosen. Do you understand what it means and does your chosen example demonstrate positive evidence of this competency?

We look for the competencies throughout the application process, so it's very important that you understand them.

Answering the competency based questions

The example below has been written for the competency ‘Problem Solving’, however, we would encourage you to consider your own individual strength when choosing from the competency options.

I volunteer at my local animal shelter, helping to exercise dogs awaiting rehoming. Last winter we lost three volunteers within a month and were left understaffed. This led to a hugely increased workload for paid staff members, and dogs were only receiving two walks a day, rather than the usual three.

I began by considering what I could do to help – both the staff and the animals. I thought about volunteering more of my time. However, as I work part time and am studying for a Masters there was a limit to the amount of time I could provide. I considered trying to attract new volunteers - I knew staff members were already struggling to cope with their increased workload, so would have limited time to put to a recruitment drive or training new volunteers.

I therefore decided to instigate this. I put up a sign advertising the opportunity in a local pet shop, as well as in the staff room at work. I organised a lecture shout out for my course at university. My work had a Christmas party and I persuaded them to let me hold a raffle, with the profits going to the animal shelter. We used this money to pay for an advert in the local paper as well as some treats for the dogs.

This generated three new volunteers, who I trained and are now a valuable part of the team. This sufficiently spread the workload, filled our voluntary vacancies and solved the problem.

Completing the Situational Judgement Test

Within the application form, you will be asked to complete a Situational Judgement Test. This has been designed to give you a preview of life as a Teach First participant. It will present you with scenarios that teachers encounter and potential responses to these. 

You don’t need any prior knowledge of teaching to complete the test. We’re looking to understand how you would typically respond to each scenario. For each question you will need to analyse the situation and weigh up the appropriateness of each suggested response.

It’s not possible to prepare for the test; just choose your response based on the information provided. There isn’t only one right way to respond – we are not looking for one particular type of person. What makes schools work are the different teachers and variety of approaches. The best advice we can give is to be yourself and be honest.

It is not a timed test but you will need to complete it in one sitting. Take time to read and fully understand each scenario and the possible responses.

Arrange a support call to discuss your application

Once you’ve opened an application for our Leadership Development Programme, we’d encourage you to speak to a member of our recruitment team. On the call they will be able to talk you through the application, answer any queries and offer you tailored advice specific to our recruitment process. Taking this on board will help you to submit the best possible application. Just email recruitment@teachfirst.org.uk to arrange to speak to us.

Looking for tips on how to succeed at our assessment centre?

If you’ve received an invitation to our assessment centre you can find some quick tips to help you to succeed and learn more about the assessment centre here.

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