How to become a Primary School Teacher

How to become a Primary School Teacher

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Teaching is a popular career choice, due to a high level of job security and satisfaction, not to mention long holidays. And there are plenty of opportunities out there – nine out of ten teachers are employed within six months of completing their training.

Starting salaries begin around £22,000 for qualified teachers and progress to around £38,000. However, there are several different pay scales that could mean more for advanced skills, as well as bonus payment for teaching specific subjects. Of course, you’ll be part of a public sector benefit scheme and may be eligible to join a Home Ownership Scheme. All teaching jobs in London come with a London weighting supplement.

But, like any career, there are pros and cons. Teaching isn’t for everyone, so if you’re thinking of going down that route, it’s important to get a feel for the profession - to see it’s the right career fit for you.

Learn the basics

As a primary school teacher, you can’t expect to enjoy the same hours as your pupils. Most teachers start at 8am and don’t finish until 5 or 6pm. The early start is required to set up the classroom for the day, while, after the children have gone, teachers will be preparing for the following day, marking and recording pupil progress. Additionally, teachers are sometimes required to stay late, or return in the evening for parent meetings and other after-school activities.

Before starting training, one way of discovering whether or not the teaching life is for you is by acting as a teaching assistant, or by attending one of the events held by organised by the Department of Education.

The basic requirements to begin primary teacher training include grade C, or above, GCSE in English, Maths and one Science subject. Of course, you’ll also need endless patience, enthusiasm and energy for managing young pupils.

There are three potential routes into teaching jobs: undergraduate teacher training, postgraduate teacher training (PGCE) and employment based teacher training.

Undergraduate teacher training

A Bachelor of Education (BEd) takes three to four years full-time, or four to six years part-time, and combines a degree with initial teacher training. You’ll need at least two A-levels to go this route. Another option is a BA or BSc with QTS (Qualified Teacher Status), which takes the same length of time.


Postgraduates can undertake a one year full-time/two year part-time postgrad certificate in education (PGCE), which focuses on developing teaching skills. This course includes 12 weeks of college seminars and tutorials with at least 18 weeks hands-on experience. It’s worth noting that there is a tax-free bursary of up to £9,000 available for trainees.

Employment-based teacher training

The Graduate Teacher Programme a popular for those starting a second career, as you receive a salary (from £16,113 depending on your responsibilities, experience and location). It usually takes one school year to become qualified. The Registered Teacher Programme provides the same salary, but usually takes two years to become qualified and is intended for non-graduates who have some experience of higher education.

Yet another option is Teach First, a programme designed to attract high level graduates with a minimum 2:1 degree into teaching. This involves two years in challenging secondary schools in London, Manchester and the Midlands combined with leadership development. While this might be daunting, completion can lead to excellent promotional prospects.

Pressure on school budgets means that there isn’t much left for professional development for teachers. Promotional prospects often come down to school size and staff turnover. The smaller the school, the less likely opportunities are to arise, but if you’re willing to move around, there can be opportunities for progression in other areas.


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