Leadership Development Program

Top tips for a shining application

Six minutes
Ziska Ludowyke Monday, January 22nd, 2024

At Teach for Australia, our mission is to fight educational inequity by recruiting and developing exceptional graduates and career changers to teach and lead across Australia.

By joining our Leadership Development Program, you’ll be inspiring young minds in amazing communities – all while helping to create lasting social change.

If you’re thinking about applying for the next cohort of the program, check out these application tips from TFA Selection Specialist, Ziska Ludowyke:

My name is Ziska, and I’ve been working at Teach For Australia for more than 14 years. I’ve assessed hundreds of applications, conducted numerous interviews, and witnessed thousands of candidates go through our selection process.

Before applying for our Leadership Development Program, you must first:

1 – Check your eligibility.
To enrol in our tailored Masters and obtain teacher registration, candidates must meet specific criteria based on their studies. Please ensure you meet these requirements before applying.

2 – Get informed about the application and assessment process.
Attend an Application Workshop to learn and ask questions about the selection process, using the STAR Method, and tips for a standout application.

If you apply for the Leadership Development Program (LDP), here’s what you need to know about our application and assessment process.

The LDP assessment consists of two stages: a situational judgement test (SJT) and online application, followed by a virtual Assessment Centre for eligible candidates.

Once you start the application, we suggest that you complete the SJT before completing the longer written component. It provides a glimpse of life as a teacher in the LDP and tests your responses to common teaching scenarios. No prior teaching experience is required to complete it.

After completing the online application and SJT, those who have met our competency benchmarks and our provisional check for eligibility will be invited to an Assessment Centre. Assessment Centres are done virtually and comprise three activities that reflect life as a teacher. Lots of preparation and guidance materials are sent seven calendar days before you attend the day. Just make sure you prepare, and we are there to support you throughout the day.

We cannot stress the importance of checking your learning area eligibility before you begin. The uniqueness of the LDP is that, unlike other Masters programs, ours has a complex web of policy and legislative requirements that candidates must meet prior to being sent a formal offer to join.

These rules are not within the control of TFA. We do work very closely with our partners in these areas so if you are in doubt please reach out to our admissions team at apply@teachforaustralia.org.

Here are some top tips to support you with your application and assessment process:

1 – Remember why you’re applying

We are a vision and mission-driven organisation that seeks to ensure that education gives every child a greater choice for their future. Now more than ever, there are many pathways into the classroom. So what is it about the Teach For Australia program that drew you to apply?

Many of our candidates are drawn to this work because of their own educational experiences, or what they know about the challenges of education in Australia. What excites you about creating the change we need?

We want to understand how you will serve the students during the program. Therefore, we recommend that you spend time reflecting on this before you begin your application.

Read our website so you fully understand what we do, why it’s important and the program structure. This will help you to determine your capacity to engage in the program – particularly the Summer Semester.

2 – Navigate the competency-based questions with precision

Attention to detail is crucial for informed decision-making, especially in the online application process. It’s important to carefully select relevant examples from your professional, voluntary, or academic experiences when responding to competency-based questions. We value diverse skills and understand that your examples may not be related to education.

Proofread your application to enhance your presentation. A well-proofread application, free from grammar and spelling mistakes, is important. Consider having someone else review your application for additional insights.

While the word count is a guide, sticking to it shows your seriousness and thoughtfulness in crafting responses. Use it as a gauge for the level of detail expected, demonstrating your commitment to a thorough and well-considered application.

Clear and explicit communication is essential in this Masters program. Remember that your writing skills must be demonstrated. While AI tools can be helpful, they should not replace your own perspective in your responses. Use proper grammar, write in the first person, and organise your responses using paragraphs and a variety of sentence structures.

3 – Plan purposefully and execute strategically

When preparing to submit your online written application, consider adopting a purposeful approach over two weeks. Break down the application into manageable tasks, allowing you to dedicate focused time to each section. This intentional pacing enables you to thoroughly reflect on your experiences, carefully select examples, and craft responses that align with the competencies sought by the program.

Planning extends beyond the initial application phase to include thoughtful consideration for the next stage, the Assessment Centre. Use the seven calendar days before the Assessment Centre to approach your preparation with a deliberate strategy. Read and understand what is being asked of you, allocate time for practice sessions, with peers or mentors, enabling you to refine your approach and enhance your performance.

Taking a thoughtful and phased approach ensures that you have ample time to reflect, prepare, and refine your responses, ultimately presenting yourself as a strong and well-prepared candidate for the Leadership Development Program.

By planning purposefully and strategically, not only for the online application but also for the Assessment Centre, you position yourself for success.

4 – Failure is not dirty word

This challenging program enhances your existing skills, developing you into an effective leader with easily transferable skills. The assessment process determines your readiness and self-leadership ability. Identifying strengths and areas for growth, and valuing feedback are crucial for authentic leadership. Embracing mistakes as learning opportunities cultivates resilience, problem-solving skills, and prepares for future success.

During this process, you will be requested to discuss your failures and areas for personal development. It is crucial to be sincere with yourself and provide direct responses to the questions. When prompted to reflect on changes you would make or lessons you have learned, it is encouraged to offer tangible examples. There is no correct or incorrect response, as long as you can provide supportive reasoning for your insight.

Use your past failures as learning opportunities to pave the way for success in the Leadership Development Program.

5 – Seek help

We are a learning community and value people who seek feedback and know when to ask for help sooner rather than later. Self-aware and resilient people will always know their limitations and look for learning opportunities from others. Getting peers or mentors to read your application or practice your Assessment Centre activities will ensure that you have taken the time to look for continuous improvement and demonstrate help-seeking behaviours.

Once you’ve opened an application, we strongly encourage you to connect with your dedicated Recruitment Manager and attend an Application Workshop. They can talk to you about your application and give tailored advice specific to our process. Taking this on board will help you submit the best application possible.

Recruitment Managers can also help you navigate that tricky eligibility process if you’re uncertain. They are your guides and your biggest advocates in this process. Just email apply@teachforaustralia.org to arrange to speak with one of the team.

A final note

Keep in mind that our process is not competitive, but it is selective. We assess candidates using six key competencies that we believe are crucial for success in the LDP and beyond. If you can demonstrate these to reach our minimum program standards your application will progress to the next stage. It is critical that we find the right people who are ready to take on the challenge over the two years of the program.

Getting your application in before the deadline and earlier in the year will also help if you’re interested in diversifying your learning areas or need to take on any additional study to become eligible.

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