Primary School Teacher, Role, Salary, Training & Description

A career working in primary school teacher jobs positions in the UK is one of the honourable positions in learning.

Primary school teacher role you are the biggest decision maker on pupils learning where you as a teacher are given the responsibility of the academic achievement of a class of young age learners.

Primary school teacher role

To be successful you’ll need to be committed to the role, organised, learn from prior lessons and want to help children to achieve the best they can.

From my experience as a teacher working outside the classroom, sometimes till late at night is essential to be prepared for each lesson.

Working hours per week will be 50-55 hours with lesson plans, marking and other paperwork to complete on a weekly basis at school or at home.

At the start of the school year you’ll detail schemes of work for each subject and year group according to the national curriculum.

Before arriving at school each morning you will have a lesson plan for the day’s lesson with topics to cover.

Primary school teacher role

Part of the day will see you recording homework, develop worksheets & teaching aids, attend meetings, and continuously monitor progress of each child. Teaching is not just about giving a lesson in class; it also encompasses emotional and academic support in & out of the classroom.

Key is how well you control classroom management and behaviour for learning. Essentially you are looking for attentive and engaged learners who listen, respond and talk when it is their turn.

UK primary teacher salary England

Main pay scale primary teacher salary England 1st September 2023 – 2024 £30,000 – £47,666. Upper pay scale (U1 to U3) teachers receive £43,266 – £56,959.

Highly experienced teachers are paid as leading practitioner in England £47,417 – £81,051 depending on grade and location of the school in 2023/2024.

School teacher salary in Scotland (1st January 2024 Probationary/£32,217 to Point 5 – £48,516. Head teacher. & deputies £59,994 to £110,808 from January 2024.

In Scotland as a Chartered Teacher at £50,022 to £59,481 from 1st January 2024.

Pension contributions from your salary each month are deducted and the school contributes also to your pension retirement pot.

Free schools and academies in England have they’re own pay & conditions. They can pay teachers what they wish, with some paying extra for shortage subject teachers.

See Education Institute Scotland and Department for Education pay and conditions

Responsibilities of primary teacher at school

  • Consciously setting high expectation of pupils discipline and behaviour in the classroom and around the school. Further, create a classroom environment that learners respect and work together to achieving learning goals.
  • Challenging and rectify inappropriate behaviour following the schools behaviour policy.
  • Use a variety of learning & teaching strategies appropriate for pupils, lesson topic & objective.  Pupils should be engaged throughout the time span of each lesson by listening, answering questions, completing set tasks or group work.
  • Use a mix of resources to stimulate pupil’s enquiry, motivation and investigation of the lesson topic.
  • Plan appropriate and effective lessons ensuring all students are learning to the best of their ability.  Specifically extend learning to bright and able students while also helping less able students.
  • Participate in training & development sessions at the school, partner schools or other training organisation.
  • Liaise with senior leadership, parents and external bodies in relation to child protection, health and behaviour.
  • Set, mark, grade homework and record completion & individual pupil progress.
  • Meet and communicate with parents on aspects of a child’s learning.
  • Organise school outings and trips to cultural & social events.
  • Attend out of school class time activities & events organised at the school.
  • Keep up to date with curriculum developments.
  • Ready pupils transition from Primary to secondary school in year 6 or P7.

Roles and responsibilities of a teacher in the classroom are varied, and actually there is a long list of tasks by day, week and throughout the year. Other more complex school & classroom teacher duties arise when pupil issues arise or take on additional responsibilities, such as phase leader.

Primary school teacher job description also involves working and collaborating with others, especially people in a primary teaching assistant jobs role. Your job can be one of the most rewarding, fulfilling and challenging careers.

Accepting one of the many jobs as a teacher to young school children in the UK from Scotland England & Wales you teach a range of subjects in an age group from reception or key stages 1 and 2. 

General teachers are given their own class of pupils where they stay all day. 

You can specialise in a specific key stage or as a teacher of English, maths, physical education.

Balancing your workload, assessments, record keeping, parent evenings, observations and stress level to meet set targets are everyday tasks.

Teachers are responsible for, or part of a whole subject, or pastoral area teaching classes with teaching assistants and leaning support colleagues.

Key skills required by all teachers in primary schools

All primary teacher’s require patience, sense a humour; good health, get on with other people, imagination and creativity in lessons.

  • Good Communicator.
  • Compassionate, firm with a high degree of interpersonal skills for all ages.
  • Information technology literate.
  • Well organised and adaptable to change quickly.
  • Very strong time management ability to stay on time and meet tight time scales.
  • Imaginative and somewhat creative with tasks.
  • Attention to details and able to correct issues when arising.
  • Certainly calm under pressure at all times.

Pupil primary school age UK & key stage

CountryKey StageAge RangeCurriculum
NurseryFoundation, nursery, receptionAge 4-5 years oldNational Curriculum for England
Lower Primary SchoolKS1 (Years 1-2) early yearsAge 5-7 years oldNational Curriculum for England
Upper Primary SchoolKS2 (Years 3-6)Age 7 to 11 years oldNational Curriculum for England
NurseryNursery at primary school Age 4 to 5 years old Curriculum for Excellence
Lower Primary SchoolP2, P3 & P4Age 6 to 8 years old Curriculum for Excellence
Upper Primary SchoolP5, P6 & P7 Age 9 to 11 years old Curriculum for Excellence
Foundation phase/ Key Stage 1Includes early years stageAge 4 to 7 years old Foundation Phase Curriculum
Key Stage 2Upper primary school pupilsAge 7 to 11 years oldWales National Curriculum
Northern Ireland
Foundation StageYears 1 & 2Age 4 to 6 years old N Ireland National Curriculum
Key Stage 1Years 3 & 4 Age 6 to 8 years old N Ireland National Curriculum
Key Stage 2Years 5 & 7 Age 8 to 11 years old N Ireland National Curriculum

In each home nation of the UK pupils learn in class depending on children’s age

In the primary independent private sector, a fee paying primary is known as a preparatory school where fees are payable, child selection admission testing and attendance can be from 4 until 13 years old.

Professional development as a primary teacher

Primary teacher & teaching assistant Inset training days spread out during the year cover health & safety, child protection, curriculum developments and school wide issues.

For you to excel in a primary teacher post you will require continually learning and improving:

  • Knowledge and skills in the classroom.
  • Adapt to new teaching methods that are to be tested or adopted.
  • Learn and perfect technology use in lessons

You’ll have opportunities to attend in school training courses and other courses possibly run at partners schools in the area.

Certainly taking on extra responsibility, such as phase leader and senior leadership roles will see you first extending your knowledge in many school areas.

A Masters in Education (MEd) is a popular postgraduate degree option and indeed you are encouraged to study, 

Basically am MEd award is additional theory of teaching & learning that helps understanding of the complexities of being a teacher.  Option to study part time or by distance learning with my universities over 2 years.

Continued professional development (CPD) courses you could go on for advancement:

  • Pastoral care.
  • Special needs training.
  • Technology use in the class and for administration as a teacher.
  • Assessment & target setting.
  • Child protection, psychology and behaviour issues.
  • Step up to senior leadership role training.

All the CPD courses are in addition to all your daily tasks as a teacher.  Just letting you in on a little secret from my time as a school teacher.

 Career progression & advancement

Highly possible to advance your career, as there are so many schools and a shortage of qualified teachers in senior roles. 

Once you become a qualified primary school teacher after an NQT 1-2 year you continue to build up experience and knowledge required for successful teaching and senior job roles. 

Normally, a teacher would expect to be promoted to phase leader after 5 + years teaching experience, sometime shorter., even headteacher within 6 years of qualifying.

Leadership and management positions are available at department and school level, after initial primary school teacher training you become a a newly qualified teacher (NQT) then other career advancement positions including:

Foundation / Early years EYFS teacher / Primary school teacherSubject leader
Phase leaderAssistant head teacher
Deputy head teacherHead teacher

You would have well developed teaching skills, good observation records, pupils progressing and overall test scores on target.

Continued professional development (CPD) is an ongoing process with all teachers.  Mandatory hours and optional time per year is expected to be spent on developing as a teacher as well as enhancing, teaching & learning, education technology and strategies.

Help yourself be attending courses and acquiring additional training and qualifications required to be appointed for a head of department or senior leadership role. Which courses? 

Depends on the role you desire and if you are teaching in Scotland, England or Wales.

 UK school holidays time of year

Teachers receive what looks like a lot of time off, they are working at home marking and preparing lessons.

2 weeks Christmas & new year.

1 week mid February.

2 weeks for Easter in April.

6 weeks in summer from end of June Scotland, and from mid July for England & Wales.

1 week in mid October.

New academic year starts and term time runs from mid August to end of June in Scotland and first week in September to mid July in England & Wales.

 Where, how and when to apply for primary school jobs

Teachers can choose to teach at a village, town or city school or on one of the Islands around the UK.  Primary schools can have a school role as low as 5 pupils up to inner city 800-900 large schools.

As a qualified or trainee teacher you can teach at local government primaries, academies, free schools or at a fee paying independent preparatory school.

Good idea to complete your induction or probationer training in a local authority school. Why, much more organised, support, and less likely to be paid off before the induction year/s is finished. 

Not a good idea to try and complete an induction period with supply teaching as your contract is not permanent and could finish before you fully qualify as a teacher.

Scotland has a well tried and tested probationary teacher programme scheme where the Scottish Government provides all teachers a year in a local council school to complete they’re primary school teacher training.

In the rest of the UK NQT teachers can apply for advertised jobs online at council websites, national press.

Education jobs in schools England government website. 

Jobs in Scotland’s schools see myjobscotland website has jobs at primary schools for teachers.

 When to start looking for teacher jobs in primary schools

Best time to start looking for jobs is around eight months before the start of a new academic year is the answer for a full time permanent position. Schools start advertising in December for the next August or September start in teacher recruitment, local council and increasingly via social media.

Teachers can and also start at anytime in the academic year due to teacher shortages.

Schools also at times may use recruitment agencies for harder to fill posts such as stem mathematics and senior leadership teacher’s vacancies throughout the year.

Update your CV and then start looking around for the type of position you are looking for.

Could be that you need to start travelling out with the area you live or relocate if you are seeking a promotion.

As a good teacher with references to match you should have no problem in finding a job in schools as a primary teacher at key stage one or two, or indeed an NQT job.

Don’t forget to check your criminal record check expiry date, although the next school you teach at can apply for a new one.

What are schools looking for when hiring a teacher?

Schools are looking for teachers with experience, track record of success in the classroom and around the school. Detail in the job application you fill in what traits, qualities and skills you use to bring out the best in students to learn. 

What can you offer outside of the classroom, such as school wide involvement?

Look to apply to 3-4 primary schools for your next post as you never know what type of teacher they’re looking to replace.

Skills and qualifications may not be enough, think about training, personality and hours they may offer.  Full and part time primary teacher job vacancies can accommodate someone that is looking to get back into teaching or just looking for a reduced teaching schedule.

Should I apply to a school or through an agency?  Vast majority of teachers should only need to apply to a school job advertisement. Your skills, training and qualifications are in short supply.

All about matching the skills you have to a one of the primary teaching jobs that will suit you as a teacher.  Choose a local council school in a town or village or you maybe suited to a boarding or independent school key stage two or one role.

Is teaching abroad for you? Well qualified British teachers are in high demand around the world.  You should think long and hard about all the pros and cons of relocating overseas well before any move.

Supply teaching as a primary teacher

Large choice of schools, although they may not be in your local area.  Sign up with 2 recruitment agencies and or local councils. 

Two good references, current police check DBS or PVG scheme and originals of your teaching certificate, undergraduate degree, with qualified teacher status.

Good option if trying out schools to find out what the culture, discipline and strength of the current management team. 

Many school supply teachers are offered long term or permanent positions when a school can see you are an effective teacher.  Pay can be from £90 – £160 a day depending on the location, London and home counties recruiters offering the most.

Almost all local councils in the UK have supply teacher pools where you can sign up for short or long term teaching placements in a local authority school.

This is a good option as you are directly employed by the local government and can receive good references,  full and part time jobs are available.

How to train to become a primary school teacher UK, England & Wales

Train to become a primary school teacher in England & Wales or Scotland will take around 3-4 years depending on the choice of undergraduate or postgraduate teacher training route.

England & Wales have a separate, different education systems and initial teacher training in Scotland options.

You have much more choice of training routes and flexibility to training as a primary teacher UK and become fully qualified in England & Wales.

How to Train to Become a Primary School Teacher UK

School primary training UK routes for teachers

England & Wales trainee teachers have a number of choices to qualify as a primary teacher from part or full time, university led or with a training provider. 

University course training for teachers

By far most trainee student teachers choose to study on a primary teacher course such as Scotland PGDE Primary, bachelor of education, BA Hons or postgraduate PGCE primary course at a university in England or Wales.

Teacher trainee courses at universities are a mix of classroom theories and at least 2 teaching placements at different primary schools on a part time or full time basis.

School direct teacher training England schools

(School Direct) has become more popular and is open to degree holders to train at a school for one year gaining a recognised qualification also QTS.

School centred initial teacher training (SCITT) in England & Wales schools) leads to QTS.

Assessment only QTS qualified teacher for England

Assessment only QTS for degree holders that have years of experience can submit a portfolio of evidence and pass school teaching observations. This option is open to confident and experienced teachers in free schools or independent sector, unqualified teachers and teaching assistants.

Apprenticeship teacher training

One year school based apprenticeship teacher training programme for graduates where they are employed by a school and receive a salary, training by a school.

Students do not pay training fees for the apprenticeship course or qualification.

When you successfully complete the apprentice training course for teaching you get QTS and a level 6 qualification.

Teaching assistant route to qualified teacher

A teaching assistant that has a number of years of experience in taking booster classes or some classes on their own, such as a higher level teacher assistant can take the assessment only QTS option to become a qualified teacher in England.

Teachers at schools in Northern Ireland require to be registered with General Teaching Council Northern Ireland (GTCNI).

All training for school teachers in Scotland starts with a university course at a Scottish university and you are then assigned schools for teaching placements, with a postgraduate diploma in education (PGDE) the main qualification studies.

Qualifications & training as primary teacher

One of bachelor of education BEd, BSc or BA with qualified teacher status (QTS). For Scotland qualified teacher PGDE or BEd with Standard of Provisional Registration with General Teaching Council Scotland (GTCS).

Another university way is for degree holders to train towards a PGCE primary education for England & Wales.

Entry requirements primary teacher training UK

Requirements primary teacher training

Good grades at GCSE for English, Mathematics & science at grade C and above for Northern Ireland, Wales & England. 

Qualifications for Scotland’s teacher training look at this comprehensive guide.  Basically, SCQF Level 6 or above in English (Higher) and Level 5 in Mathematics.

More eligibility questions answered for England and Wales visit this page.

You also need a relevant good degree 2.2 or 2.1 and are subject to a full criminal background record check for all countries you have visited in the past 10 years for stays 6 months or more.

How to become a primary teacher without a degree in England

No degree? You can teach at private independent schools in England & Wales, free schools or academies in England, although you should a relevant qualification at certain education level.

Other option: Becoming fully qualified as a teacher work at other council run schools in England & Wales as an unqualified teacher and complete the assessment only QTS option for qualified teacher status.

Do you require a degree to become a teacher?  Essentially yes, although there are limited options without a degree. Some schools will employ a person with a degree level alternative qualification to fill a teaching position that is hard to get a qualified teacher.

Very few schools will appoint a person as a class teacher without QTS and formal teacher training. Unqualified teacher yes, although will be on a temporary basis until they appoint a qualified teacher, then you are out the door.

Free schools recruit the best teachers they can and seldom employ unqualified teachers and rare occasions academies do for a short time.

Boarding & independent school:  Not required to hold QTS in England & Wales, Scotland is not an option as you must be fully qualified to teach in any school.

Selection of academies: You would be lucky, certainly you would have substantial experience and some sort of level 5 qualification in the subject area.

Train as a teacher option see Scotland       

Teacher training England Wales and NI grades, subjects required and other information also detailed.

Funding for primary teacher training UK

Fees funding and training bursary available for primary job training. You are given a non returnable bursary and university fees are also paid.

England & Wales: See Department of Education for routes including general teacher, specialists in mathematics, physical education or English.

Scotland, visit the official government teacher website.  Bursaries are available although more restrictive in Scotland.

You are also eligible for a student loan for the duration of your initial teacher training.

UK teacher training providers and applications

Large number of universities provides training courses for teachers; BA, BSc, BEd, PGCE qualifications. Look on UCAS website for the course of your choice:

University of DerbyUniversity of NorthumbriaMiddlesex University
University of GlasgowEdge Hill UniversityUniversity of Cambridge
Leeds Trinity UniversityUniversity of SalfordUniversity of Manchester

Teacher training applications are through University Central Admissions Service (UCAS)  or options online for England, Scotland and Wales.  Northern Ireland you apply directly to the university or training provider.

Teacher training in Scotland is essentially provided by 11 universities for undergraduate & postgraduate primary training.

Check out the following to get into teaching and information: 

Department of Education for Northern Ireland (DENI)   

Teach in Scotland  

Learning Wales

Work experience with children for teacher training course application

  • All teacher training providers require to see evidence you have previous experience working or been around children. 
  • Best experience is through volunteering your time at a local primary school. 
  • You could also sit in classes observing teachers, although get ready to participate with questions and possible group work.
  • Another way to get the required experience is by taking a temporary part time job as a teaching assistant then career change to teacher. You get paid and does not require to be a permanent post.
  • Play schemes, Sunday schools and clubs could be alternatives, although they are second best.
  • You also need to start reading about the role of a teacher, national curriculum, and issues in teaching at a primary school today.

See here for ideas on school experience.

Trainee teacher at primary school soft skills & qualities

  • Abundance of patience.
  • Excellent organisation skills and time keeping.
  • Very clear speech and pronunciation of fluent English.
  • Adaptable & flexible to changing situations.
  • Imaginative to come up with varied lessons and other teaching & learning strategies.
  • Empathy and understanding for young school students.
  • Positive approachable presence.
  • Able to control and solve challenging situations such as behaviour control.
  • Self control and can follow rules & regulation while keep privacy information confidential.
  • Able to teamwork in the classroom and school..
  • Organised and well prepared for lesson or other school duties, administration.
  • Keep up with current teaching & learning strategies and primary curriculum.

University & school based teacher training Interview

All prospective trainee teachers must attend an interview to gain access to a school, university or other training provider course programme.

The interview for teachers looking to train can last up to half a day where you will be assessed & a face to face interview given to see if you are a suitable person for the course and teaching profession.

Education Tay
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