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Q I teach languages in a secondary school, and am interested in finding out how I would go about transferring to teach in the primary sector. Would I need to retrain, and if so, how could I go about this?

A There is a move to teach languages to younger children, sometimes through the use of specialist teachers. However, most primary teachers remain general class teachers, responsible for a full range of subjects. In all except the largest primary schools, classroom teachers would be expected to deliver foreign languages teaching in addition to the other parts of the curriculum. This is the type of post you would be most likely to see advertised. But, although you need no specific training, you would be unlikely to find a teaching post easily, as there is fierce competition for primary jobs in most parts of the country.

However, another possibility would be to find a post in one of the dwindling number of middle schools that span the primarysecondary divide.

There you could build up expertise in working with the younger children. At the same time, you could perhaps do some further study into the teaching and learning of languages among younger children, perhaps for a further degree at masters level.

Alternatively, you could still apply directly for a teaching post in a primary school. If you want to try this direct route, I would advise you to make contact with the head of one of the feeder primary schools to your secondary school for a discussion about the job market locally. If you do not know of Cilt, The National Centre for Languages, you may find its website useful for further information (

John Howson is a recruitment analyst and visiting professor of education at Oxford Brookes university. To ask him a question, email him at

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