become-primary-teacher image
Tes Institute

How to become a primary school teacher

There are a few different ways of becoming a primary school teacher in the UK and it’s important to make sure you find the route into primary teaching that works best for you. Here, Tes Institute share some of the main routes open to you.
12 Nov 21

“How do I become a primary school teacher?” is a question asked by thousands of people every year, and not just during August when office workers cast a jealous eye at their teacher friends and their enviable holidays. It’s a diverse and rewarding career unlike any other.

How to become a primary teacher – getting the qualifications

The first step on the road to your dream career as a primary school teacher is to understand the criteria you need to meet. Whilst it is possible to teach in schools that aren’t state-maintained without Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), being qualified is always an advantage.

There are a number of different teaching qualifications you can get if you want to become a primary school teacher. Depending on your circumstances, there are different ways you can obtain these teaching qualifications needed to end up in front of a primary school classroom. Take a look at the below to work out which may be best for you: 

Initial Teacher Training (ITT) Programme

Who’s it for? People who have graduated and want to become a teacher.

How does it work? Broadly speaking, there are two routes to becoming a teacher within ITT: university-led and school-led.

  • University-led Initial Teacher Training: If you choose University-led, a college or university will consider your application and you’ll do most of your studying through them, rather than a school. However, you will also enjoy a lot of in-school experience throughout the programme. Furthermore, there is usually the option for gaining a PGCE in most subjects as well as your QTS.

  • School-led Initial Teacher Training: Alternatively, candidates seeking a school-led approach can choose teacher training from a SCITT or School Direct programme. These applicants are selected by a school – or group of schools – instead of a college or university. Most of your time will be spent in school, with the equivalent to one day per week left for theoretical study. Providing you have at least three years’ experience in a school, this position may be salaried. If not, loans and bursaries are available. Even though this option is school-led, you may be able to get a PGCE in addition to QTS if the school partners with a University.

Find out more about School Direct

Straight to Teaching

Who’s it for? Teaching assistants, HLTAs and other unqualified teachers who want to move to the next level and become a primary school teacher.

How does it work? Though there are some QTS Assessment Only options available for school staff, most candidates will need – and hugely benefit from – additional guidance before taking the plunge to become a primary school teacher.

Straight to Teaching from Tes Institute is specifically designed to work with existing school staff to further develop the skills and knowledge they already have and realising their ambition of becoming a teacher.

Find out more about Straight to Teaching

How to become a primary school teacher – getting the experience

Volunteering in a primary school will help focus your mind and make you aware of the realities of becoming a primary school teacher. It will help you to understand what to expect and what a typical day is like as a primary school teacher. There are several ways you can get your foot in the door, including:

  • Registering on the Government’s School Experience Programme where you can book experience online.
  • Contacting schools directly. Ask about opportunities to shadow other primary school teachers. Demonstrate your passion, enthusiasm and dedication.
  • Use friends and family. Do you know someone who works in a school? Ask them to help. Even if they aren’t looking for volunteers, they are likely to know someone who is.
  • Ask your old school. If you’re still in the area, it’s worth getting in touch with your old school to see if they can help out a former pupil.

How to become a primary school teacher – the other essential skills

As well as professional qualifications, it takes a certain kind of person to become a successful primary school teacher. It’s a job with many highs and its fair share of difficult moments. The best primary school teachers are:

  • Efficient and effective problem solvers.
  • Excellent communicators. As well as working with children of all abilities and learning styles, you will also be liaising with parents and families from a wide range of diverse backgrounds.
  • Calm and patient. Primary classrooms can be chaotic places to work. It’s essential you are able to handle the pressure and ensure your classroom remains an effective learning environment.
  • Committed. As a primary school teacher, there’s no such thing as going the extra mile – it’s simply doing your job.

How to become a primary school teacher – the next steps

Now you know how to become a primary teacher, it’s time to put that plan into action. Tes Institute is home to a range of programmes for prospective teachers. You can also check the UCAS website to find courses near you.

Tes Institute is here to help potential teachers realise their ambition. If you have any questions or need additional guidance and advice, please contact us and we’ll be happy to help. 

Tags in this post