what is a primary teacher?

As a primary teacher, you educate young children from four years, at the reception stage, to eleven years, which is year 6 in England and Wales. Your job is to build the numeracy and literacy skills of the children and prepare them for secondary school. You will work with a single class for the entire academic year. That means you have to be conversant with all the subjects in the national curriculum.

You work with pupils between three to five years old, covering nursery and reception, which are the foundation years. At this stage, you help children acclimatise to the school environment and learn basic numeracy and literacy skills. Most primary teachers teach Key Stages 1 and 2. Key Stage 1 involves working with year 1 and year 2 pupils between five and seven years, while Stage 2 involves working with years 3 to 6.

Primary teachers work in state schools and private academic institutions. You can work in community schools (local authority maintained), free schools or academies. Some primary teachers find jobs in independent schools not funded by the government and don't have to follow the national curriculum.

As a primary teacher, you need enthusiasm and a dedication to working with children. It also helps to have good judgement and an analytical mind to succeed. Most employers require a satisfactory health record and conduct criminal checks.

Would working in education as a primary teacher suit your enthusiasm and passion for helping children? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a primary teacher role.

primary teacher jobs

primary teacher salary

According to National Careers, a primary teacher takes home a salary of £25,714 annually. As their skills and experience improve, the compensation package increases to £41,604 per year. Local authorities fund most primary schools, and the government defines the pay scale for teachers. However, independent schools usually determine their salaries based on their resources and internal policies.

Primary teachers receive multiple benefits, including medical and transport allowances. They also enjoy annual leave and pension contributions. Some independent schools offer incentives like bonuses.

how to increase your salary as a primary teacher

Primary teachers' salaries are constantly under review, and most employers increase the compensation package gradually as your experience increases. Community and free schools usually have a lower salary bracket than independent institutions since they rely on local authorities and government support. Independent schools are also likely to provide additional perks and benefits to teachers.

The location can also affect your earning levels depending on the demand and the living costs. For instance, working in London improves your salary prospects compared to working in small towns. As well as changing location, you can improve your pay by building on your educational qualifications.

smiling female tutoring two children
smiling female tutoring two children

types of primary teachers

Some of the types of primary teachers include:

  • foundation level primary teacher: as a primary teacher in charge of early years foundation stage learners, you introduce young children to the school environment. You teach basic skills like reading and writing to children between three and five years.
  • Key Stage 1 primary teacher: you introduce basic literacy and numeracy skills to your pupils as a Key Stage 1 primary teacher. Your children are young and require close supervision as they transition from the foundation stage to the primary school learning environment.
  • Key Stage 2 primary teacher: as a KS2 primary teacher, your pupils are between seven and eleven years old. You ensure learners achieve the objectives stipulated in the curriculum. You also prepare them for secondary school following Year 6.

working as a primary teacher

Working as a primary teacher involves imparting knowledge to pupils and helping them achieve their educational goals to progress to the next stage. Take a look at the work schedules and specific tasks that primary teachers perform.


education and skills

You need the following academic qualifications to become a primary teacher:

  • university degree: a primary teacher needs to achieve qualified teacher status (QTS) by completing a bachelor's degree in education, science or arts. You also have to complete the initial teacher training induction programme before practising in the UK. The Teaching Regulation Agency of England will award you a QTS when you meet the qualifications. While you can work in independent schools without a QTS, it is a necessary qualification for teaching jobs outside the private sector.
  • apprenticeship: when you already have a degree without a QTS status, you can begin teaching via a postgraduate qualification. You train on the job and receive a Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE).
  • work experience: having work experience is important for primary teachers. You can gain experience through internships, voluntary work and private tutoring.

skills and competencies

Some of the qualities and characteristics of primary teachers include:

  • creativity: as a primary teacher, you have to be creative to develop exciting learning methods for pupils. Complex lessons require creativity to build pupils' interest and help them understand concepts.
  • problem-solving skills: as a primary teacher, you need conflict resolution and problem-solving skills to build a healthy educational environment. 
  • organisational skills: primary teachers juggle multiple tasks, from creating lesson plans to grading assignments and working one-to-one with pupils. Organisational skills help you stay on track with your objectives and attend to each pupil.
  • communication: your primary role is to transfer information to pupils in a language they can understand. Hence communications skills are vital. You also have to be a good listener to help pupils excel.
smiling female
smiling female


FAQs about working as a primary teacher

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