Application and interview tips

Getting your personal statement right in your application is essential.

It’s your opportunity to stand out from the other applicants, who on paper could be very similar to you. We recommend that you include the following into your application:

  • Your commitment to teaching  -  include sharing your experiences of recent school observation visits, showing an understanding of what life as a physics teacher is really like and your knowledge of the UK school system.
  • Your teaching qualities – show that you have great communication skills and empathy with young people. Being reflective is a great teacher quality, so comment and give opinions on your school observations and try to bring your profile on paper to life.

The National College for Teaching and Leadership has some great application tools and tips

What not to say in interviews
Slightly tongue in cheek, but ITT tutors tell us these have all been said by candidates they are interviewing…

Don’t you know I have a PhD in physics?
Well, this shows someone who is enthusiastic about physics and has gained expertise at the cutting edge of research. But it says nothing about their suitability as a secondary school physics teacher. This candidate could have proved to be an excellent teacher, able to communicate their passion and drawing on their research experience to enthuse their students. As it happened, the ITT tutor who was at the receiving end of this statement said it followed a rejection on the grounds that the candidate was “incredibly dull and unengaging”.

I like the idea of teaching because of the long holidays.
The old cliché which tells the tutor you know nothing about life as a teacher. You won’t win friends in the education world by wheeling this one out.

I have always wanted to be a physics teacher.
If you’re going to make a sweeping statement like this, you’d better be able to back it up. Did you really know you wanted to teach about electro-magnetism and the laws of thermodynamics when you were in infant school? Be honest about when you realised your calling and think about what it actually is about teaching that is so attractive to you.

I have a degree in English and have always had a keen interest in Science.
Physics teachers do come from all sorts of backgrounds and English graduates are no exception. With a Subject Knowledge Enhancement course, you could make a fine physics teacher. But don’t tell a physics ITT tutor you have always been interested in science if you went off to do a completely unrelated degree. Be honest and explain why you now want to teach science.

I have a lifelong passion for science but I got two C’s in my science GCSEs.
Again, the tutors won’t believe you’ve always been interested in science if your school grades don’t reflect it. There may be reasons why you may not have performed well in science at school but now feel you would make a good teacher – use one of these rather than trying to convince an ITT tutor of something you have no evidence for.

I just want to teach in a nice quiet school where the kids don't misbehave and I can deliver my lessons, mark my books and go home.
If only it were that simple, half the population would be teachers! In the real world, people are complicated beings and children don’t just come to school to soak up knowledge. Being a teacher encompasses a wide range of skills including subject knowledge, communication skills, empathy, tact, behaviour management, presence, organisation, self-knowledge… and this is just the beginning of the list. If you can’t take the heat, keep out of the classroom!

Related information


Physics teacher training

An insight into a PGCE Physics course

Helping you apply

The National College for Teaching and Leadership Information about teacher training

UCAS Teacher Training Apply for teacher training

Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) Undergraduate applications

Teach First


Building Brains

Teacher training guide for engineers

Love Physics

Guide to teacher training