Primary school teacher job description

Working in education can be immensely rewarding as teaching children in their early years often sets them on course for the rest of their lives. Primary school teachers not only enjoy a fulfilling career but also help to shape pupil’s futures, develop their skills and inspire a thirst for knowledge.

Role of a primary school teacher

A primary school teacher educates children from the age of four to 11, covering Key Stage 1 and 2, before they go to secondary school. 

You will teach pupils numeracy and literacy skills as well as an understanding of other subjects such as history, geography and science. You will also be involved with pupils’ emotional development, guiding them through the start of school as very young children, giving them confidence and a desire to learn as they grow.

Required experience

You’ll need to be a fully qualified teacher, which means you must have qualified teacher status (QTS). There are a number of ways you can achieve this though most teachers get a university degree before training as a teacher.

Postgraduates can study for a certificate in education (PGCE) though some degrees already have a QTS element built into them, which means you can go straight into the classroom.

Another way is to follow school-led teacher training, which involves training in a school and learning as you work. You will gain QTS and most will also include a PGCE. 

Teach First, a scheme for trainee teachers in England, allows you to earn a salary at the same time at a school in low-income areas. It also helps develop leadership skills. School Direct and School-Centred Initial Teacher Training are two other vocational routes into teaching where you work in a school. 

As well as being qualified, a primary school teacher needs to possess good communication and leadership skills, will need to be a team player, be patient and caring. Experience of working with young people in an educational setting is also very beneficial.

Primary school teacher: day in the life

Primary school teachers are responsible for delivering the entire primary school curriculum to pupils. It means your daily role will be diverse and involve delivering lessons to pupils on a wide variety of subjects. To be a good teacher you should monitor pupils’ progress, prepare lessons, mark work and encourage the children.

You will be enthusiastic and motivational towards pupils, sparking a passion for learning. One of the challenges of teaching is working with children of all abilities and you’ll need to cater to their individual needs so they are given the best chance to reach their full potential. 

As well as that, a key part of the job is liaising with parents, staff and other educational professionals to provide feedback and progress on pupil development.

Teachers are never based entirely in their classrooms and you will likely be involved in a whole host of extra-curricular activities  including  school trips, assemblies, sports days and after school clubs.

Career progression and salaries

The starting salary for a newly qualified primary school teacher is £22,467 or £28,098 in inner London. As you gain experience, and depending on where you work, this could rise to between £30,000 and £40,000 on average.

As your career progresses you can look to become a more senior member of a school team, eventually applying for deputy headships or head teacher roles. As a head teacher in a primary school you would expect to earn more than £115,000 in inner London schools and up to around £108,000 elsewhere in England and Wales.


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