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Career profile: Primary school teacher

Career profile: Primary school teacherTeaching primary school kids is all about having fun and finger-painting right? Wrong! There's more to this job than meets the eye. Read out to find out what primary school teachers actually do.

A what?

Primary school teachers develop lesson plans and work in line with the national curriculum. They help pupils learn important skills such as reading, writing and arithmetic.

On the job

Primary school teachers are responsible for ensuring children get the best start in life, by teaching them the core academic and social skills they will need in future. Depending on the age, ability and aptitude of their pupils, they must achieve certain basic standards.

They monitor and record pupils’ progress and prepare them for the Standard Assessment Tasks or SATs. Whilst providing the basic skills, primary school teachers must also inspire their pupils to help them increase their knowledge and understanding.

Primary school teaching in England and Wales is divided into two stages, known as Key Stage 1, for children aged five to seven, and Key Stage 2, for those aged seven to 11.
In Scotland, classes are organised by age from Primary 1 (age five) to Primary 7 (aged12).

Primary school teachers must be able to teach all areas of the primary curriculum and take responsibility for a class. They must plan, prepare and present lessons catering to the needs of the entire class. Maintaining discipline is an important part of the role as is telling a parent how their child is progressing.

Teachers must be able to work with others to plan and coordinate work, be prepared to work evenings and weekends and be flexible.

Most teachers will often work more than 50 hours per week during term time. They are often in school before the school day starts and stay after the pupils have gone home. Marking and preparation are usually done at home.

Teachers have up to 12 weeks per year away from the classroom, but most do work on marking, planning and preparation during this time. Parents' evenings, school concerts, clubs, after-school activities and preparation for school inspections all take up extra hours.

How much does it pay?

Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will start on £20,627, rising incrementally with experience and responsibility to £30,148. This may be higher however, if you are working in or near London.

After few years, teachers can apply to 'pass the threshold' and go onto an upper scale, rising to £35,121. Teachers may move into managerial positions commanding salaries of £35,000 to £54,000.

Find out more about how much teachers earn.

How do I get there?

There are several different ways to become a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT).

Once you have acquired NQT status, you will need to apply for a job. You can find work by contacting your local authority, reading the job adverts in the press and online and through word of mouth.

How flexible you are about your location of work will help boost your job prospects considerably. You will find there are more jobs available in inner-city schools where staff turnover may be higher.

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