How to become a primary school teacher: Toby's story

Meet Toby, 24, who's a primary school teacher. He chose to specialise in Key Stage 1 education, teaching 5-7-year-olds, as he thought it was where he could make the biggest difference. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

"The highlights are really those small interactions with the children and those moments when you are able to see a child take on board and learn something that you've taught them. That, for me, makes it all worthwhile."

  • Toby studied Psychology and Philosophy at university and hadn't considered teaching as a career until he worked with children as a summer job in San Francisco

  • He learnt about Teach First, a fully-paid training programme with school and university support, run by an educational charity. The programme offers the opportunity to teach for two years while earning your Postgraduate Diploma in Education

  • Even though he knew he loved working with children, Toby wasn't sure if teaching was the profession he wanted to do for the rest of his life. But the Teach First programme confirmed it could be the career for him

  • Very few primary school teachers are male and Toby thinks that's something that needs to be changed.

What to expect if you want to be a primary school teacher

  • Primary school teacher average salary: £25,714 to £41,604 per year
  • Primary school teacher typical hours: 37 to 40 hours per week

What qualifications do you need to be a primary school teacher?

  • Typical entry requirements:
    • Undergraduate degree: You could get into this role by doing an undergraduate degree that leads to qualified teacher status (QTS), such as a Bachelor of Education (BEd). You'll usually need GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including Maths, English and Science and two to three A-levels or equivalent for a degree
    • Postgraduate study/training: If you have a degree in a curriculum subject without QTS, you can qualify as a teacher by completing a postgraduate teacher training course at university or on a school-based training programme
    • Apprenticeship: You can also get into this career through a teacher higher apprenticeship, if you have a relevant degree and want to teach 5 -11-year-olds. You'll usually need GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including Maths, English and Science, and a degree in a relevant subject
    • Work: You could also work towards this career by starting as a teaching assistant and doing a part-time degree. You could then move onto a postgraduate teaching course to get qualified teacher status.

This information is a guide and is constantly changing. Please check the National Careers Service website for the latest information and all the qualifications needed. (Sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service).

Learn more about routes into teaching on the Get Into Teaching website.

For careers advice in all parts of the UK visit: National Careers service (England), nidirect (Northern Ireland), My World of Work (Scotland) and Careers Wales (Wales).

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