Primary School Teacher Career Advice
If you are wondering how to become a primary school teacher, below are tips and advice on training for and beginning careers in this area of education and teaching, as well as job prospects in the UK.
The Job Description
The role of primary school teachers is to work with children aged between 5 and 11, in priate or state schools.
A primary teacher would be responsible for classes and teach many, or every, area covered by the National Curriculum. Usually, you have a specialist subject, which you are likely co-ordinate across the school.
- preparing lesson plans and teaching / learning materials
- marking and assessing the work of children
- putting up classroom displays
- working with other industry professionals, including social workers and educational psychologists
- discussingthe progress of children and any related issues with their carers / parents and carers at parent's evenings or as and when required
- attending school meetings and in-house training programmes
- organising social activities, group outings and sports events.
You might be assisted by a teaching assistant.
England and Wales include middle schools in some areas, which accept children between the ages of 8/9 and 12/13. Middle school teachers may be required to teach a secondary or primary curriculum, according to the ages within the class.
The key personal attributes of good primary teachers include:
- genuine enthusiasm for your subjects
- an ability to build strong relationships with colleagues, parents / carers and pupils
- a commitment to equal opportunities
- good teamwork skills and the ability to work on initiative
- being well organised and with good time-management
- skills in managing classes and dealing with difficult behaviour
- strong communication abilities
- a patient and a good-humoured manner.
How to become a primary school teacher
To be a primary / middle school teacher at a state run school, you must achieve QTS - Qualified Teacher Status - by doing ITT - Initial Teacher Training. There are several routes to ITT. However, you must always reach the following basic entry requirements:
- GCSEs at grade A to C in maths, English and science or an equivalent level of qualifications (check with each course provider for their entry requirements)
- passing tests in literacy, numeracy and Information and Communications Technology - ICT
- Criminal Records Bureau - CRB - clearance
- voluntary or paid experience of working with children of relevant ages could be a distinct advantage. For example, volunteering at a school or play scheme could be useful.
QTS can be gained in one of four ways, according to whether you have previously gained a relevant higher education qualification:
If you dont have a degree, you could train to be a teacher while completing a degree by following one of the courses below:
A BEd - Bachelor of Education degree
A BA (Hons) degree or BSc (Hons) degree with QTS
Some courses concentrate on the Early Years (3 to 5 age group), some on lower primary (5 to 8 years), some on upper primary (8 to 11) and some are for the general primary age groups. These courses last 3 to 4 years on a full-time basis. You usually need two or more A levels, with one being in a National Curriculum subject, and five or more GCSEs at grade A to C. A university might accept alternative qualifications, for example, the Access to Higher Education.
With a degree or similar in a relevant subject for the primary National Curriculum, a PGCE - Postgraduate Certificate of Education - could be a good route. You can study by distance learning on a flexible basis, two years part-time or one year full-time.
The GTTR - Graduate Teacher Training Registry - has details of PGCE courses as well as the application process.
SCITT - School-Centred Initial Teacher Training
SCITT is a classroom-based training programme taking one year and normally leading on to the PGCE qualification. You need a degree to qualify.
You could gain QTS in a school while working on a trainee salary along a programme shown below:
- GTP - Graduate Teacher Programme - (you must have a degree)
- RTP - Registered Teacher Programme - (you must have finished two years in higher education - eg a foundation degree, BTEC HND or two years of a degree)
OTTP - Overseas Trained Teacher Programme - (you must have a non-EU teaching qualification equivalent to a UK degree).
The number of employment-based programme places is limited and a great deal of competition exists.
Training and Development
After completing an ITT course, you will need to pass a probation period in employment of three terms before becoming fully qualified. During this period you would work on reduced teaching hours and receive support from a mentor.
Throughout a teaching career, you need to stay abreast of new education ideas and teachniques through in-service training. This can be done by attendance at training days at school or an LEA training centre.
Transfer to a different age group
Further training is not required for transfer to another age group, but schools recommend that you gain experience of the age range that you intend to teach. You could achieve this through voluntary work. Some teacher training establishments and LEAs offer short refresher or conversion courses. The Training and Development Agency for Schools can offer help.
Returning to teaching
Qualified teachers can return to teaching after a career break with information and support from the Training and Development Agency for Schools.
The Pay (a rough guide)
The main salary scale can ranges from £20,627 - £30,148 per annum (higher for inner London).
Teachers at the top of the main scale can apply for assessment to progress onto the upper pay scale, which rises to £35,121 (again, higher for inner London).
The salary scale is reviewed annually.
The majority of teaching jobs are in government-run state schools. However, you can also work at an independent / private school, a pupil referral unit, or an establishment run by the armed forces. Supply teaching and part-time roles are also possibilities, often organised through recruitment agencies.
An experienced teacher could apply for AST (Advanced Skills Teacher) positions. ASTs spend 80% of the time teaching their own classes and 20% alongside other teachers to support their professional development and raise learning and teaching standards.
At most schools, you could progress to a curriculum leader, a deputy headteacher and the headteacher. You could specialise in teaching pupils with special educational needs or move onto private tuition.
Useful education, teaching and training resources:
Training and Development Agency for Schools
151 Buckingham Palace Road
Tel: 0845 6000 991