Primary school teacher

Primary school teachers look after the educational, social and emotional development of children from age 5 to 11.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £22,000 to £66,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 37 per week

1. Entry requirements

There are many ways to become a primary school teacher. For all of them you'll need:

You can qualify as a teacher by taking a Bachelor of Education (BEd) or a BA (Hons) or BSc (Hons) with qualified teacher status (QTS).

If you've a degree in a national curriculum subject, you can qualify as a teacher with a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) course.

If you've a degree, you can study for a PGCE while you work. See the School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) and Teach First

If you don't have a degree but have 3 years’ work experience in commerce or industry, School Direct has details.

If you've experience in the armed forces, you can train under the Troops to Teachers scheme.

2. Skills required

You'll need: 

  • the ability to inspire and motivate
  • creativity to design activities and materials
  • organisational and planning skills
  • the ability to manage classes and deal with challenging behaviour

3. What you'll do

You'll teach subjects in the primary national curriculum at key stage 1 (ages 5 to 7) and key stage 2 (7 to 11). Subjects include English, maths, science, music and art.

You could work as a subject specialist teacher, concentrating on a particular subject like maths or a language.

You'll also:

  • plan lessons and prepare teaching materials
  • mark and assess children's work
  • manage class behaviour
  • discuss children's progress with parents and carers
  • work with other professionals like education psychologists and social workers
  • attend meetings and do training
  • organise outings, social activities and sports events

You may also work with under 5 in a children’s centre or a reception class in a school.

4. Salary

Starter: £16,000 to £30,000

Experienced: £22,000 to £46,000

Highly Experienced: £35,000 to £66,000

Your salary will depend on many factors including location, responsibilities, seniority and class size. The Department for Education offers a detailed range of salaries.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll usually work 37 hours a week. You'll spend additional time planning lessons, marking work and taking part in activities like parents' evenings and outings.

Teachers normally work 39 weeks a year, split over 3 school terms.

6. Career path and progression

Most teaching jobs are in state schools but you could also work in independent schools, academies, pupil referral units, hospitals and schools run by the armed forces. Part-time and temporary ('supply') teaching is possible.

With experience, you may become an advanced skills teacher, supporting other teachers.

You could progress to curriculum leader, deputy head teacher and head teacher. You could also specialise in teaching pupils with special educational needs or move into private tuition or pastoral care work.

Last updated: 23 September 2016