4th May 2001 at 01:00
Sara Bubb offers advice to students and NQTs.

I am near the end of my secondary English PGCE but now realise I would be much happier teaching in a primary school. Is it worth applying for primary posts without doing a conversion course?

There is a lot to think about before you make the switch. You need to analyse your reasons for wanting to change, and why you chose secondary in the first place. Primary teaching is not an easy option. You will need to plan, teach and assess 10 subjects. You'll have to gain a lot of curriculum knowledge and a sound foundation in pedagogy very quickly. Primary teachers use different teaching styles and strategies related to how young children learn.

Getting a job in a primary school won't be easy because you'll be in competition with people who have trained for tht age group. The sort of school that might consider you probably has recruitment problems and may not be the best training ground - you'll need lots of support.

Teaching in an unfamiliar phase will definitely make completing your induction period difficult. You would be expected to meet the induction standards as well as someone who has trained as a primary teacher. If you fail induction you are not allowed to teach in the maintained sector, so you would be taking a huge risk. My recommendation is that you spend your induction period in a secondary school and then do a conversion course. Some are full-time and others part-time, so that you can work. You can check out a list of conversion courses at Email your questions to

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