References – Who Should You Nominate?

Congratulations! You’re thinking of applying to the Mathematics Teacher Training Scholarship Scheme – you want to be a teacher that is remembered for all the right reasons. As you look around the scheme’s website you will find a wide range of resources to help you complete your application form, especially when it comes to the personal statement which is the aspect of the application where most candidates are rejected.

One key element to the application process is the person you nominate to be a referee, but whom should you ask? The answer to this lies in the information the scheme needs.  To help assess your suitability, your referee will be asked to address the following three points:

  • Your predicted degree classification (if you are due to graduate the current academic year)
  • Why they think you are suitable for a career as a secondary mathematics teacher?  Your referee will be asked to comment on: your personal qualities, i.e. enthusiasm, communication skills (verbal and written), leadership potential, teamwork ability, your interest and commitment to education/teaching, as well as your love of mathematics and desire to share this with others.
  • If there are any other comments they would like to make which they feel may support your application? 

If you’re at university, we’d recommend that the referee should be your personal tutor. They’ll be able to provide details of your expected degree classification and will be able to talk about your maths knowledge and suitability of career choice. Equally, if you’re undertaking an SKE talk to the course lead about providing a reference – after all they will be seeing your maths knowledge improve on a weekly basis.

However, what if you’re changing career? Who should you ask to provide a reference then? If you’re currently working in a numerate role, why not ask your line manager? They will be able to talk about your communication skills, ability to work in teams, think on your feet and your overall maths knowledge. Don’t forget that many of the key skills you’ve learnt from working in industry are directly transferable to the classroom.

Once you’ve decided who you would like to ask to be your referee, please ask their permission before you apply. Not only is this good manners, but it also stops the referee being contacted by surprise. Remember that the final award of the scholarship is dependent upon receiving a satisfactory reference, so upsetting the person who will be writing about you isn’t going to help.

Secondly, just in case identify and ask a second referee. Many of the people the scheme contacts for a reference have enormous demands on their time and although the scheme sends reminders to provide references, occasionally the first referee nominated just isn’t able to provide the evidence. It is crucial to reiterate at this point that unless a satisfactory reference is received an offer will not be turned into an award. At this point, the scheme will contact you again to ask if you can nominate anyone else to provide a reference – it always pays to have a back-up plan!

Lastly, just remember that for both the first (and second) referee you ask, neither one can be a family member. Please note we also cannot accept references from other candidates applying to the Scholarship scheme. We need to see that people you engage with outside of your home have noticed and can comment on how your maths ability, qualifications, experience and communication skills will help you become a teacher that is remembered for all the right reasons. 

Sophie Carr