A covering letter is an important addition to your application form and/or CV, and it adds a lot of depth to your application. However, many education professionals struggle to create a strong letter. But that’s where we come in! Follow our simple tips and your cover letter will stand out from the crowd. Let's start with the basics:
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter accompanies a CV and/or completed application form, or it can be the email you send to a school or recruitment agency with your CV attached. It's an opportunity to highlight what makes you particularly suitable for the job, but most importantly, it also highlights your passions and motivations for the job and the school you're applying to.
What to include
Always write a new cover letter for each job you go for, and make sure you are clearly explaining why you are applying for this particular job. If you're not sure, you could refer to the job specification, find the main points that attracted you to the role and address each point in turn. Make the link between the requirement on the job specification and your suitability very clear. For example, if the description states that the school "are looking for an SEN specialist" respond to this by writing about the SEN experience, training and skills that you have.
A cover letter is a great space to expand on your relevant experience in your CV, providing examples and demonstrating the impact you've had. However, make sure you don't just repeat what's on your CV. The cover letter and CV should work together, with each filling in the gaps of the other. Think of the cover letter as a chance to shed additional light on the information on your CV.
Schools value research and preparation, so it's also a good idea to spend some time on the school's website, and know the Ofsted report, before writing your cover letter, to help you stand out and to show your interest and commitment to the role.
You should make sure you discuss your experience of working with support staff, and parents. As well as being a requirement of the Teacher's Standards, being able to work with the wider school community is increasingly important to schools under the new Ofsted Inspection requirements.
And finally, talk about the kids! You would be amazed how many cover letters we see that don't mention children at all, or only in passing. As a teacher, you need to demonstrate a passion for the needs of your pupils.
Make sure you think about the particular role you're applying for, and how you would add real value. Be clear about what this role represents to you and why you're applying. If the role is the ideal next step in your career, explain why. If the school culture really stood out to you, make sure you emphasise this.
How to start and end a cover letter
If you know the name of the person you're sending it to, you should address the letter to that person and begin the letter, for example, "Dear Ms Jones" and end with "Yours sincerely" <your name>".
If you can't find the name of the person, but have a job title, such as the Head Teacher, you should address the letter to the Head Teacher, and include "Dear Sir or Madam," and end with "Yours faithfully <your name>".
A cover letter should always end positively and look ahead to the next stage, perhaps saying 'I would be happy to provide further information at interview' or 'I look forward to hearing from you'.
How long should your cover letter be?
Your cover letter should be well-presented and fit onto one page. You want to entice the school to want to find out more about you, not tell them the whole story up front.
There's nothing worse than seeing a well-written letter that's littered with errors, and it will damage the school's impression of you as an education professional. Make sure you check spelling, grammar and format really carefully.
A final thought
When applying to a job, it can be useful to think about your CV / Application Form as a way to demonstrate that you can do the job, and your cover letter as a way of demonstrating your personality and enthusiasm for the role.
Feel ready to submit your cover letter? Search and apply for education jobs!