Applying for A Vocational Course: Beating the Odds

When I applied for a vacancy on a teaching course, there were 100 applicants for each post. I used a little trick that got me as far as interview. For every 12 people interviewed, only 1 was selected. I used the same trick again, and got selected for the course. Here’s what I did:

First, I got the basics right. For example, it really was essential that I was applying for a course in which I was genuinely interested, and for which I had some aptitude. It was also absolutely necessary that I had already worked with young children in informal and formal educational settings.

Those things were vital, but I wanted to improve my chances.

One of the key questions on the application form for the course asked why I wanted to be a teacher.

I was fortunate that I had already managed to get hold of a several recruiting booklets with titles like “Why Teaching?”  and “Teaching in Schools and Colleges in the UK”. (This was 1992, so these publications are probably out of print. They were published by organisations such as Teaching As a Career (TASK) , the Department of Education and Science and The Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Service).

My trick was to summarise, in my own words, the points in these publications, providing examples from my own experience where I could.

The advantages of doing this were several-fold:

  • I came up with points that I would not have considered without their influence.
  • I got into the mindset of the education system.
  • I learned the kind of terminology that would be understood by the educational establishment.
  • I learned which aspects of my own ideas and experiences would be considered valid by the educational establishment.

Of course, at the interview, they asked much the same question. In fact, part of the assessment was to write an essay on that very same topic. Fortunately, I had re-read my application form that morning on the train up to the training college. I was well prepared.

So, was I cheating? I don’t think so. I was being resourceful, not dishonest.

To be completely honest, however, I should say that I never made a career of teaching. It just wasn’t my calling. Perhaps I was fooled by all those recruitment brochures…


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